Carefree Jimenez enjoying the ride
GULLANE, Scotland -- Get ready. One of the best things in life approaches. Golf's Pleasure King -- Miguel Angel Jimenez -- has the Friday lead in the Open Championship, which means he's coming into the interview room.
"Hello!" he yells as he comes through the door. "I am here!"
He is a vision. He's 49, looks 59, and swings like 19. He is a plus-4 handicap, a size 42 belt, and a quadruple-A rated interview. He is ultra-comfortable in his own skin, which he seems to have borrowed from an alligator. He drives a Ferrari Maranello, favors Cuban Siglo VI cigars, and wears his tossed-salad orange hairdo in an awe-inspiring ponytail.
A fetching young Scottish woman, maybe 22 years old, turns his head. She works for the R&A. Jimenez offers her an unseen chair next to him on the stage.
"Please," he says, gesturing for her to sit down. He doesn't seem to care that his girlfriend, a very smoky Austrian named Susanne Styblo, is in the room. The woman smiles awkwardly. He grins. Susanne laughs.
The World's Most Interesting Man fears no challenge. He skis black diamonds. When he broke his leg doing it last year, a foolish reporter asked: "Will you give up skiing now?"
"Will you give up the things you enjoy in your life?" Jimenez asked.
How do you like your position, Miguel?
"To be atop the leaderboard, it's much nice, no?"
How are you leading the Open at 49 years old, Miguel?
"Why? I have not the right to do it? Only the young people can do it?"
Jimenez goes through life the way Kobayashi goes through hot dogs. He inhales it. He's been a high school dropout, a caddie, a soldier and a car mechanic. Now he's a millionaire. His swing is smooth, his life smoother.
"When you rush," he likes to say, "you cannot enjoy the food, the wine, the cigars, no?"
One night this week in Muirfield, he was seen heading back to the practice range after his round wearing aviator sunglasses, smoking a cigar and carrying a bottle of wine.
"Maybe he IS the coolest man alive," Keegan Bradley tweeted.
If Jimenez were to win this Open, he'd be the oldest to claim a major. He might also be the first person to win the Claret Jug who collects ... claret.
Jimenez collects a lot of things, like fine, handmade Italian leather golf shoes by Italian shoemaker Gigi Nebuloni. He has 50 pairs. He has many cars, a few thousand bottles of wine, and a nice string of European Tour wins -- 19 in all.
What time will you go to bed tonight, Miguel?
"When I feel like it. And only after I smoke my cigar. Why, because I have the lead, now I must go to bed at 10? No, this is bulls---."
You look at him and your mind reels.
Is he wearing a gold Speedo underneath? Does he braid his chest hair? Each morning before his round, does he have a milk bath, followed by a snifter of brandy and 12 Aleve?
Jimenez has so much charisma it has to take its own car. He is constantly hugging fans and family. For the past couple of years at his hometown Andalucía Open, he's paid for many of the tournament expenses out of his own pocket.
He sweats neither the small stuff nor the big. In fact, he barely sweats at all. His bizarre and beautiful warm-up routine, which resembles a kind of teamster polka, has more than 200,000 hits on YouTube.
"There is maybe olive oil in my joints," he once said, "and drinking the nice Rioja wine and those things keeps me fit and flexible."
Maybe Rory McIlroy should try it?
One time, after Jimenez opened the 2009 Open Championship in Turnberry with a 64, someone asked him what he was thinking. "That it would be nice to have a little whiskey," he answered.
He really should do one of those Dos Equis ads.
Velvet-throated Announcer over Jimenez hitting shots with a Cuban in his mouth:
Par is whatever he shoots. When he wins, the town paints HIM. He once shot 63 -- with just his beard. He is ... The Most Interesting Golfer in the World.
Fabulous, isn't it? Into the world of 6 percent body fat, joyless robo-golfers who work out 90 minutes a day, consult with their psychologists and eat no unsaturated fat comes a Spanish Buddha who not only isn't stressing about winning his first major, he may not even know he's in one.
How will you deal with the pressure of the lead, Miguel?
"When tomorrow is coming, when the sun is coming, I will deal with that thing."
If he won, it would be much nice, no?
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THE OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP
The Open returns to Scotland and Muirfield for the first time since 2002. Who will hold the Claret Jug this time around?