Europe's elder statesman Jimenez loves the tension

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The Independent Online

Although miguel Angel Jimenez is not involved in this morning's fourballs the Spaniard is still feeling the tension here at Celtic Manor.

The cigar-smoking Jimenez says he has had knots in his stomach during the build-up to his fourth appearance in the biennial team competition against the United States. "It's very tense, especially because it's getting so close now," Jimenez said yesterday afternoon. "When you get here to the Ryder Cup, all week you feel like a knot in your stomach and tomorrow is getting closer and your knot is getting tight."

Jimenez, at 46 the oldest player on the 12-man European team, said that feeling of tense apprehension was a positive factor. "It's a good thing," he said. "It's not nerves. It's something that you can afford, that you want.

"That makes you motivated more, and that's where you want to be. If you don't have those feelings, probably you're not here [in a good state of mind]. You need to feel things and that is important to you."

Although Jimenez has played in three previous Ryder Cups they were all in the United States and he is delighted to be making his first appearance on European soil. "It's really nice, especially when you look around and you see the crowds and everything," the 18-times European Tour winner said. "It's a different atmosphere and you feel that everyone is behind you. It's a great feeling."

Jimenez, the only Spaniard on the 2010 European team with out-of-form Sergio Garcia having failed to qualify, brings superb form to Celtic Manor. "I feel very good and I'm playing well," said the Malaga resident who has won three times on the European Tour this season but who has lost all three of his Ryder Cup singles matches. "I'm hitting the ball very well so I just need to be myself out there and enjoy myself."

While disappointed to be the sole Iberian on the playing staff at Celtic Manor, Jimenez felt the addition of Garcia as one of the assistant captains had been an inspired move. "It's good for the team and it's also good for him, to help get his motivation back," said Jimenez, who made his Ryder Cup debut at Brookline in 1999. "It's going to be very nice."

Jimenez will be watching the morning fourballs with debutant Peter Hanson, who says he has recovered from a lung infection that kept him out of last week's Vivendi Cup. "It was a good decision to rest," he said.