JUST over a month since becoming the oldest winner in Euro-pean Tour history – he claimed the Hong Kong Open title at the age of 48 – Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez has been ruled out of the start of the 2013 season after breaking his right leg in a skiing accident.
Normally associated with nothing more dangerous than puffing on enormous cigars and drinking the occasional glass of Rioja, Jimenez suffered the injury in a fall while out on the piste in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, close to his home city of Malaga.
Jimenez, one of Jose Maria Olazabal’s vice-captains at the Ryder Cup in Chicago earlier this year, was taken to the mountain medical centre for an X-ray before being transferred to a hospital in nearby Malaga, where he was operated on that evening.
He is likely to be out of action for at least three months, meaning he will miss a run of lucrative events in the Middle East, including the Dubai Desert Classic, which he won in 2010 after beating Lee Westwood in a play-off. “I was going down a hill and lost control briefly and when I fell it was very sore,” Jimenez was quoted as saying on the European Tour’s website. “I knew immediately I had broken something.
“The medical staff at Sierra Nevada took me for an X-ray straight away and I am very thankful to them, as well as all of the staff at the hospital, for their quick and professional response.”
Jimenez, a four-time Ryder Cup player, isn’t the first Tour player to suffer a leg break in a skiing accident, Phil Mickelson having fractured his left femur in a fall he suffered during a winter family holiday in Arizona in 1994.
The left-hander was forced to miss three months, including the US Masters, the first major of the season, after having a metal rod inserted in his leg and it is still there to this day.
Now Jimenez will be hoping he suffers no long-term damage, especially at a time when he was feeling on such a high on the back his record-breaking win in Hong Kong – the third time he had triumphed in the Fanling event.
A one-stroke win over Sweden’s Fredrik Andersson Hed added to the titles he won there in 2005 and 2008 and, at the age of 48 years and 318 days, he beat the previous European Tour record held by Irishman Des Smyth who was 48 years and 34 days when he won the 2001 Madeira Islands Open.
“I was playing very well at the end of the season so it is obviously not a good time for me to get injured,” admitted Jimenez, a 19-time European Tour winner. “When I took up skiing I knew the risks that I was taking but I love it so much I could not stop.”