I feel great. I feel fantastic. I like the feeling of the knot in my stomach. 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.
Perhaps Miguel Angel Jimenez was so candid about the effect of Masters’ pressure on him because English is his second language. If he was speaking in his native Spanish, perhaps he would have been as circumspect as most of the other Tour pros are. Yes, they admit to being a little nervous, but not this much about its physical manifestations…and the fact that it’s turned him into an adrenaline junkie.
Matt Kuchar admitted to the frightening green speeds, but then segued right into how much of an adrenaline junkie he is too:
Greens are as fast as I ever remember seeing Masters greens, a bit on the frightening side. But it’s fun. It’s what we come here for.
In the case of Jimenez, he doesn’t begin to look like someone who is stressed out by his profession. In fact, with his reputation as a lover of a good cigar and $200 bottles of the fine Spanish wine, Cirsion, he looks more like a bon vivant and thoroughly engaging raconteur. Oh, the stories he must tell.
And then there is his now-famous pre-round warmup routine. ABC was making more fun of it than it deserved, but perhaps that comes under the famous quote, “I don’t care what you say about me as long as you spell my name right:”
But Jimenez also kind of gets the last word on it:
Well, the fans like to see that. That is a little funny what you see there. But it helps to move the joints, you know.
Obviously the thing what you do, early in the morning, you do the proper exercise, and everything is going on in the back, what people cannot see. You know, at 50, it’s difficult to be here if you are not working out somehow. You need to be flexible and you need to be elastic and strong to be here.
Probably it’s funny. Sometimes I’m looking at myself on video, and I’m laughing [with] you. (Laughter). It’s nice, it’s bueno. But you know what is the main thing, I never get injured.
And he has some more philosophical observations for those who would work out in excess of what the body can sustain over time:
You need to make exercise because you’re going to be healthy; you need to make exercise because you’re going to be stronger but you cannot go to those limits sometimes.
Obviously you need to prepare yourself. You need to exercise and you need to get flexible, but it’s very difficult to get what is the balance for everything, you know.
And the thing I recommend to the young people is just enjoy what are you doing, make exercise to be healthy, not to get overdoing. If you’ve got a physical body that way (indicating large, athletic frame) don’t try to be that way (indicating twice as large, athletic frame).
The main thing is enjoy yourself, enjoy what you’re doing, to not get injured, and smile, because you can’t forget to smile on the golf course. (Laughter).
But behind his clownish exercise image is a man with a serious plan for Augusta National. He revealed how he managed a 66 on Saturday:
You know, today is very patient, just commit to every hole, shot by shot, and that’s what happened. That’s the secret to play this golf course, and that’s probably that’s the difference between yesterday and today.
It also helps to be in love with where you are and what you do:
I love the place. It’s a beautiful place, a beautiful golf course, always manicured and I feel great here. Doesn’t matter how you play, you feel good, because everything is prepared for us the way it is.
The golf course also is if you don’t hit good, you don’t want to be there. Doesn’t matter how you call it or how you name it. You need to hit good and you need to be patient, and you need to be into your own zone. I like it and that’s my style of game and what I love, what I love to do.
He’s attracted some additional attention because he is one of the six players over 50 years old who made the cut. In fact, he’s accepted an invitation to play in next week’s Champions Tour event in Duluth, Georgia, a northeast suburb of Atlanta. And once again, he distills the reason for that down to loving what he does:
The main thing through the years, when you reach the 50s, it’s not about how you feel now, because the peoples take more care of themselves and you are more healthier this age, no. But probably the main thing is that I’m doing what I like to do in my life, and I’m enjoying it completely. That’s because probably for — especially for this age.
It’s difficult after 25 years; it’s my 26th year on Tour. And probably some people say, that’s so many years, that’s got to be hard and that’s got to be hard on the body. No, I love what I’m doing, and I hope I’m still in the same conditions for another 25 (laughter). I’m not going to get bored of myself (laughter).
And always seems to happen when speaking with a player coming off a very successful round, it frequently is attributed to patience. But even then, Jimenez puts it in the larger context of “singing your song”…and gets a little metaphysical in the process”
That’s the main thing that you have to take care of around here. As I said before, yesterday (76), not being patient and stressing myself, those things, you pay the bill. And then you’re the whole day off your pace, off your rhythm.
The main thing is to keep that pace, keep that rhythm and keep on your song. That’s the main thing, that’s the secret to the golf course. Doesn’t matter how you play, you need to keep patience and keep always below the hole. That’s the only thing. The rest just happens.