HENRIK Stenson and Peter Uihlein picked up the prizes, while a whole host of other 2013 winners also took a bow at the European Tour Players’ Awards ceremony.
The warmest applause of the night at the glitzy bash at a Heathrow hotel, however, was undoubtedly afforded to 50-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez after his weekend win in the Spanish Open.
The success extended his own record as the European Tour’s oldest winner, as well as boosting his hopes of a fifth Ryder Cup appearance at Gleneagles in September. As he gets older, his fan club is becoming bigger and Richie Ramsay, for one, admits he’s keen to learn from Jimenez when it comes to the mental part of the game.
“I played with him on Saturday,” said Ramsay, who finished fifth in Girona, missing out on the play-off that involved Jimenez, Belgian Thomas Pieters and Australian Richard Green by two shots. “Physically, he is in good shape, don’t get me wrong, and he swings it well, but he is a fantastic example of how important the mental game is. He is probably one of the strongest players mentally on Tour. It just goes to show that you can practice as much as you want and do all the work in the gym. But, if you don’t have it upstairs, then you are not going to be successful,” added Ramsay.
Since returning from an ankle injury that forced him to miss the first chunk of the 2014 schedule, Ramsay has been knocking at the door in his bid for a third European Tour win. He tied for 11th on his comeback in Morocco then finished second in the new NH Collection Open at Sotogrande before giving another good account of himself last week.
He’s among 14 Scots setting out today in the £3.9 million BMW PGA Championship and is hoping some of the mental strength he saw in Jimenez can rub off on him. “I had a couple of short iron shots that could have been turned into birdies, but instead they became bogeys,” he reflected on his final round in Girona. “I need to believe in myself a bit more. I have to be a lot more arrogant in a good way. Inner arrogance is probably the best way to describe what I need.”
The Scots on duty this week also include former champion Scott Drummond and Tartan Tour trio Chris Kelly, Greig Hutcheon and Graham Fox.
Meanwhile, Ian Poulter is confident of overcoming an injury scare to play, but admits the rest of the season might have to take priority. Poulter injured his back in the gym last week and rated his chances of being fit at only ten per cent yesterday morning, a figure he revised to 70 per cent by the afternoon after treatment and hitting balls on the range.
The 38-year-old will have further treatment this morning ahead of his 12.40 tee-time alongside Jonas Blixt and Francesco Molinari, but is conscious of not causing any more damage with a big summer ahead. “The chances are I could be teeing off tomorrow,” said Poulter, whose fall outside the automatic qualifying spots is a “concern” for Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.
“My expectations won’t be very high, I have to say, but I’d like to play. It is Wentworth, it’s a big tournament. I think it’s important to the tour that I try and play, but I have to be mindful. . . as long as I can’t injure myself any more, that has to take priority.”