Golf: Jimenez makes home advantage pay as Goosen slips

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The Independent Online
COLIN MONTGOMERIE once said of Miguel Angel Jimenez, seemingly in the absence of having anything else to say about the Spaniard: "I'm sure he's a character in Malaga." Jimenez, in fact, is pretty big in the whole of Andalucia and is something of the region's `Senor Golf'. After winning the Turespana Masters in his home town in March, the 35-year- old Ryder Cup player yesterday added the Volvo Masters at Montecastillo for an Andalucian double.

The relevance as far as Montgomerie was concerned is that the Spaniard's two-stroke win, the sixth of his career, ruled Padraig Harrington out of the running for the Scot's European No 1 crown, and severely dented the hopes of Retief Goosen.

With Monty having one of his rare finishes outside the top-ten, Sergio Garcia's fifth place put him pounds 410,000 behind with Lee Westwood, 30th here, the only other player to have a chance of toppling the Scot at this week's AmEx World Championship at Valderrama. Unused not to clinching the order of merit by the end of the Volvo Masters, Montgomerie did, however, take home a pounds 100,000 bonus from the sponsors as the leading player in their three tournaments.

Goosen, the leader since the opening day, had a three-stroke advantage after holing from 20 feet at the second, but stumbled thereafter. A missed three-footer at the 16th, for a bogey-six, ended the South African's challenge, although he birdied the last for a 71 and a tie for second with Harrington and Bernhard Langer at 17 under.

For both Goosen, who won the French Open in May, and Harrington, who has not won for three years, it was their fifth runners-up finishes of the season. Harrington, who found water four times in the first three days, chipped in from 30 yards for an eagle at the ninth to share the lead, but parred the next eight holes before also birdying the last for a 67.

Jimenez swept past the overnight contenders with a closing round of 65, his charge for victory emphatically stated with a brilliant run of four birdies in five holes from the 12th.

Despite playing with Garcia, Jimenez was cheered on by the local gallery, including family and friends and, he reckoned, half the village of Churriana, where he was born. "To be the first Spaniard to win the Volvo Masters in its 12 years makes me very proud," Jimenez said.

Langer, who would have qualified anyway from the top-50 of the world rankings, moved up into the top-20 of the order of merit, knocking out England's John Bickerton from a place at Valderrama. Peter O'Malley, the Australian, started the day thinking he would need something as low as a 62 to get into the top-20 and birdied six of the first seven holes. But his 64 was only good enough for 10th place, the same as Ian Woosnam, who also misses the tournament.

As for those Americans who may not make the transatlantic trip, David Duval appears to have confirmed his non-attendance by saying he will spend the week at his second home in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Duval, the world No 2, yesterday reached $10m (pounds 6m) in career earnings in five seasons on the US tour, the shortest period ever, but has conceded defeat to Tiger Woods on this year's money list.

Duval said at the US Tour Championship: "The Ryder Cup took what little I had left out of me and I want to get focused and ready for next year, ready for the majors, try to have a better run." Other likely non-starters are Mark O'Meara, Fred Couples, Steve Stricker, plus Greg Norman and Jumbo Ozaki.

Scores, Digest, page 5