Sam Torrance toasts Miguel Angel Jimenez as Spaniard breaks his record in style

707th appearance starts with bogey-free eight-under 64 in Hero Open

Miguel Angel Jimenez plays his second shot on the 17th hole as he makes his 707th European Tour star on day one of the Hero Open at Marriott Forest of Arden. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Miguel Angel Jimenez plays his second shot on the 17th hole as he makes his 707th European Tour star on day one of the Hero Open at Marriott Forest of Arden. Picture: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Sam Torrance was the first to congratulate Miguel Angel Jimenez as the Spaniard celebrated breaking his European Tour appearance record in style in the first round of the Hero Open at Forest of Arden, near Birmingham.

In his 707th event, the 56-year-old carded a brilliant bogey-free eight-under-par 64 to cap a day dominated by Spaniards after Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez broke the course record with a 62 before Pablo Larrazbal also shot 64.

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After being clapped on to the 18th green by some of his fellow players, Jimenez spoke via video with Torrance, who'd held the record for a long time, at the back of the putting surface before heading off to sign his card.

"I salute you," said the Scot as he raised a glass of Rioja, Jimenez's favourite tipple, before adding: "I was very proud of the record, but I can't give it to someone better."

Jimenez, who alrfeady held the record for holes-in-one on the tour and also being the circuit's oldest winner, birdied the third, fifth, seventh and ninth to be out in 32.

Keeping his foot to the pedal, he then added gains at the 10th, 12th, 15th and 16th in an impressive day's work.

"I cannot describe my day, you have to be inside my skin," he said afterwards. "Eight under par on a beautiful summer day and especially now on the 18th here with all my colleagues.

"It’s made me feel a little bit emotional inside. I appreciate that very much. Some of them are new players, some I’ve known for many years. It was really nice."

Jimenez, who has recorded 21 wins on the tour since making his debut in 1983, added: "I enjoy everything about my life here. It’s not about business, it’s a way of living.

"Golf is my life. This doesn’t happen every day, it’s good for the Tour."

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Garcia Rodriguez, who finished second to Marc Warren in the Austrian Open earlier in the month, made two eagles and eight birdies to set a blistering pace in the second event on a new UK Swing.

"It is incredible, it's my dream" said the 31-year-old, who had graduated from the Alps Tour then the Challenge Tour in successive seasons to secure his seat at the top table in European golf.

Connor Syme fared best among 10 Scots in the field, carding six birdies in the first 10 holes en route to a 65 to sit joint-eighth. It was a pleasing effort after the 25-year-old had missed the cut in the British Masters at Close House.

"Got off to a great start before stalling a bit, but I'm still happy," he said. "Five under was good and hopefully I can keep going with the front nine form."

In his 500th European Tour appearance, David Drysdale was going along nicely on two-under before his momentum was halted by a triple-bogey 7 at the ninth.

The 45-year-old then covered the back nine in level-par as he had to settle for a one-over 73 at a venue where he finished in the top 10 in the 2002 English Open.

Italian Renato Paratore, last week's winner, eagled the 17th as he carded a 70, matching Thorbjorn Olesen's morning effort in the Dane's first start since his tour suspension was lifted.

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