Wednesday 24 May 2017

Jimenez keeps home event alive

Bernie McGuire in Malaga, Spain

The six Irish competing in this week's Andalucian Open have tournament host Miguel Angel Jimenez to thank for keeping the seaside event afloat.

Since first hosting the Malaga event four years ago, Jimenez is believed to have injected more than a €1m of his own money into the tournament.

It helps that since turning pro in 1982 Jimenez has won more than €17m in prize money in a European Tour career that includes 18 victories and four Ryder Cup appearances.

However, since taking on the host role in 2007, Jimenez is understood to have paid in an average of €250,000 a year. Now he has had to part with a further €200,000 to keep this year's event at Parador Malaga from going under. This is despite Turkish Airlines being signed last week as the tournament's major sponsor.

"I have been playing golf for 23 years and everything I have I owe to golf," said Jimenez.

"But I am happy to help because I want to see a European Tour event played here in Malaga.

"I want everything to be 100pc right for the players and that is the main thing for me, even though it can be difficult for me this week to focus fully on my game."

The six Irish include former Irish Open champion Shane Lowry, along with Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, each with new caddies. McGinley has Jimmy Rae (better known as 'Edinburgh Jimmy') on the bag for the next two events -- the Scot caddied for him during his first two years on Tour in 1996 and '97.

Clarke has teamed with Ricci Roberts, the long-time former caddy to Ernie Els.

And Lowry had to call on his father to caddy for a practice round yesterday after his caddy Dermot Byrne had to make alternate travel plans from Sicily to Spain. The airline checked-in the luggage of Byrne and 14 colleagues at Palmero Airport but after going through customs, the caddies were informed the flight had left without them.

Irish Independent

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