The Masters 2014: Jubilant Jimenez takes route 66 to stay in with a real chance of glory


augusta national

Chalk one up for the Round Bellies. Fifty-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez's six-under-par 66 yesterday equalled the Masters record for a score by a player over 50. He shares the honour with fellow wrinklies Ben Hogan (third round in 1967) and Fred Couples (first round in 2010).

And he did it puffing on his trademark stogie while waddling around Augusta National with his Oliver Hardy waistline and nose for a fine rioja. So much for this being the age of the golfing athlete. "I feel great. I feel fantastic. I like the feeling of the knot in my stomach," Jimenez said after his round. "I feel that thing since Monday when I got here. It doesn't disappear. I love that kind of pressure. I love that thing. That's why I'm still competing. My game plan is to be aggressive," he said. He is three under par and in with a chance to challenge for a green jacket today and that elusive first major victory.

Jimenez has become a cult hero on tour, especially when he warms up on the driving range with a stretching routine that looks like a bad audition for a seniors' ballet school. Fans love him. Does he know he makes them laugh with his stretching? "Probably it's funny. Sometimes I'm looking at myself on video, and I'm laughing too," he said to much laughter. "It's nice, it's bueno. If you are 50, it doesn't mean that you cannot play well. I'm still moving. I'm still flexible. I love what I'm doing and I hope I'm still in the same condition for another 25 years."

All joking apart, the Spaniard has won 20 times on the European Tour and is ranked 40th in the world. He has a real chance of once again making the Ryder Cup team in September. Patience and experience was Jimenez's answer for how he followed up Friday's 76 with yesterday's 66. It's advice some of the stellar names that are no longer here could do with listening to. His secret to good golf and a long career? "Remember to smile," he said.

There wasn't much smiling from many of the game's stellar names, many of whom were absent over the weekend. Taxi to the airport for Phil Mickelson, missing from Masters Sunday for the first time in 17 years, along with European Ryder Cup players Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell plus Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson, Victor Dubuisson, Angel Cabrera and Matteo Manassero. Exits made all the more embarrassing by Jimenez's performance and the clutch of former champions in the Golden Oldies' Club that survived to play all four rounds. Hats doffed to Sandy Lyle, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Jose Maria Olazabal, Larry Mize and Vijay Singh.

McDowell, 2010 US Open champion and Ryder Cup hero, was a beaten man. "There will be no green jacket in my wardrobe any time in the near future," he said. "I have got some work to do before I can win around this place. The second you lose confidence and get a little scared of it, it beats the crap out you," he said. "But it's all good. Where else do you want to be in the golfing world? I will find a way around here some year."

Donald and Garcia may be almost unbeatable as a Ryder Cup partnership but they got handed a lesson on how to play Augusta by 2012 champion Bubba Watson, who made up their threeball for the first two rounds. "It's tough to watch Bubba," Donald said. "He's played extremely well. You can see how he has had some success around here, hitting wedges into a lot of holes and I'm hitting six-iron." Garcia had already laid the foundations for failure on Thursday, saying: "I don't feel the comfort." No surprises then that he joined his pal Donald for the early drive out of Magnolia Drive. He was in little mood for a post-mortem. On Bubba? "Everything was impressive." On the wind? "It's windy."

Another lefty who is normally comfortable around this fabled course is three-times Masters champion Mickelson. But not this year. Yet he took his disappointment with good humour. "It was a really fun challenge," he said. "The golf course is awesome. There are birdies out there if you play well. But I'm not really sharp," he said.

Mickelson was asked if he would be watching the Masters on television at home. His answer spoke for all those stars absent. "Probably, yeah," he said. "It will kind of be my punishment."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot