Jimenez and Bjorn win overseas
I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the coverage of either tournament this week, so I won’t be writing a full recap post, but there were two pretty big wins on the European Tour early this morning on the East Coast. Miguel Angel Jimenez won in a playoff at the Hong Kong Open, breaking his own record for the oldest man to win on the European Tour at nearly 50 years old, and Thomas Bjorn took the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, holding off Sergio Garcia and Jamie Donaldson.
By February, these guys will be a combined 93 years of age, and are clearly still playing at a ridiculously high level. Jimenez will be eligible for the Champions Tour early in 2014, and while they would love to have him, he has no interest in joining the tour at this point, opting to play with the best players in the world since he can still compete with them. Bjorn is on a hell of a run, with two wins in the last three months, along with three other top-20 finishes.
Both players have played most of their careers in Europe, so they aren’t the most well known to North American golf fans, aside from Jimenez’ famous stretching routine, but they’ve both had an incredible amount of success. Both wins are big for these guys, but for completely different reasons.
Coming into the week, Jimenez was perilously close to falling outside of the top-50 in the Official World Golf Rankings, coming in at number 48. Usually I don’t put a ton of stock into the OWGR, but those who are inside the top-50 at the end of the year get an automatic invite to the Masters. With the win, Jimenez will move into 38th and should stay inside the top-50 unless something crazy happens next week at the Nelson Mandela Championship. Considering he missed out on the tournament last year, i’m sure Jimenez will be happy to make his 15th trip to Augusta National.
For Bjorn, he’s projected to move into 26th in the OWGR, but the Dane has made it clear that he would love a spot on Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup team at the end of 2014. He’s been a member of Europe’s entries on two occasions, but hasn’t played since 2002 when Sam Torrance led Europe to a win over the United States at the Belfry. Considering that he won the Johnnie Walker at Gleneagles back in 2011, the site of the Ryder Cup in September, you’d think that McGinley would give Bjorn an even closer look than other players. My bet is that we’ll see Bjorn on that team in ten months time.
I’ll have a full recap of Tiger Woods’ Northwestern Mutual World Challenge later this afternoon.