Miguel Angel Jimenez put himself in position to break his own record as the European Tour’s oldest winner, as the 50-year-old carded an opening nine-under-par 63. AA Photo
Miguel Angel Jimenez put himself in position to break his own record as the European Tour’s oldest winner, as the 50-year-old carded an opening nine-under-par 63 Nov. 13 to lead the Turkish Airlines Open.
Jimenez, boosted by an unlikely eagle on his first hole, came within a stroke of tying the course record at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, as he moved one ahead of Britain’s Ian Poulter, who finished the day with an eight-under 64.
A shot adrift at 65 are Australian Wade Ormsby, Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe and Briton Tyrrell Hatton.
Jimenez had a spectacular start to the penultimate event of the European Tour season when his wedge shot on the par-four 10th, his opening hole and dived straight into the cup.
“That doesn’t happen every day,” the 50-year-old from Malaga told reporters. “What better way to start? Nine-under par is very nice. It’s special because I’ve been struggling a little bit the last few months.”
Jimenez did not drop a shot all day during perfect scoring conditions in Antalya, as he picked up seven birdies.
“It feels very Mediterranean here, very similar to Malaga,” he said. “Same kind of trees, same kind of soil.”
The first day’s result keeps Hatton’s bid to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award alive.
“To get in the DP World Tour Championship in my rookie year is obviously amazing,” said Hatton after the round. “All I wanted at the start of the year was just to keep my card. To be playing this week and next week, it’s fantastic.”
The Turkish Airlines Open presented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports is taking place at the challenging Montgomerie Maxx Royal course crafted by eight-time European Tour winner and Ryder Cup legend, Colin Montgomerie.
The event brings together 78 professional golfers, including Montgomerie himself who is playing a milestone 600th European Tour event, competing for prize money, totaling $7 million.
Montgomerie, who finished the first day at a disappointing four over par, became just the seventh player to reach the milestone.
“It’s amazing – you’d have to pinch me if you told me this was going to happen,” the Scot, who made his debut as an amateur in 1986 and has gone on to win 31 tournaments and amassed 24,547,785 euros in prize money, said before the event.
“It’s a delight and a real honor to join an illustrious group that have reached 600 – the ones that have done it have been very fortunate in many ways to be healthy for that length of time to achieve that. But when you think, it’s 30 tournaments for 20 years in a row, it’s a lot and it’s a long walk.”
Meanwhile, Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Akif Çağatay Kılıç told reporters during the tournament that Turkey’s bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2022 was still in progress.
“We will continue to work on the issue, there is a commitment to host the event and the Turkish golf world is eager to have it,” Kılıç said. “Nothing will stop us, we will not back down from the target and we will be in the race. It will be a milestone for the future of golf in Turkey.”
Turkey is competing against Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain to host the biennial competition.