Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Miguel Angel Jimenez backs tourney
PUERTO BANUS, Spain -- Miguel Angel Jimenez said he'll keep contributing money from his own pocket for the Andalucian Open.
Jimenez is the tournament promoter and won 18 times on the European Tour, including four in the Andalucian region. He has reportedly given $560,000 in the past three years to operate the Andalucian Open.
"It is very important for me that this tournament goes forward," Jimenez said. "With the way the economy is at present, it is difficult to stage any big sporting event because it is not easy to find sponsorship money.
"I don't want to give up and want there to be a tournament in this region of Spain."
This year's tournament starts Thursday and will be played at the Aloha course near Marbella on the Costa del Sol. The $1.3 million purse is one of the smallest on the 2012 Race to Dubai schedule.
Jimenez has managed to attract former major winners Rich Beem (2002 PGA Championship), Mike Weir (2003 Masters) and Michael Campbell (2005 U.S. Open).
Paul Lawrie, the defending champion and 1999 British Open winner, and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal withdrew from the event Tuesday because of illness and injury.
Lawrie is struggling with an upper respiratory infection and faces a three-week wait to be assured of competing in the Masters for the first time since 2004. The 43-year-old Scot is ranked 45th and needs to remain inside the top 50 to play in the season's first major.
Olazabal is sidelined with a right foot injury.
Lawrie would have been the highest-ranked player competing in Spain this week, but his withdrawal leaves the 51st-ranked Jimenez with that honor.
"I sent Miguel Angel Jimenez a text to say sorry but I'm not well enough to play, I hope he understands," Lawrie said. "I have spent all day on the couch, one minute sweating and the next minute freezing."