Jimenez won't join the club

Jimenez won't join the club
Miguel Angel Jimenez

Unlike many sportsmen whose fitness routines and the way in which they present their public image are carefully calibrated, Miguel Angel Jimenez stands as his own man on a golf course.

As his peers hit balls to loosen up before a round, the Spaniard - with chest expanded - puffs on a cigar in an area where the sound of a ringing mobile phone is sacrilegious.

Isotonic shakes may be the cocktail of choice on tour but the 50-year-old gleefully indulges in espresso, wine and whisky, as evidenced by a slight pot belly.

"This is how I relax - you cannot enjoy life if you rush," the man with a red ponytail tinged with grey tells The Straits Times at the Glenmarie Golf & Country Club in Kuala Lumpur.

He is Team Europe's captain at the inaugural EurAsia Cup, leading the side against Asia in a Ryder Cup format for a US$4 million (S$5 million) pot.

Despite the mischievous grin and easy smiles for fans who greet him, it would be wrong to assume that the Malaga native takes his craft lightly.

He once broke a putter over his knee in anger at a European Tour event in Bahrain - then went on to make three birdies, putting with his lob wedge for a 65.

Even a broken leg from a skiing accident in December 2012 could not deter him from returning just months later to become the European Tour's oldest winner at the Hong Kong Open last December.

Today's young hitters chase six-packs and booming drives with an entourage of personal trainers. But Jimenez, whose fluid swing generates 280-yard drives on average even at this stage of his career, believes in his own - slightly comical - stretching routine, which he executes every morning before the day's first Cuban cigar.

This involves two golf clubs, and makes him look like a failed gymnast, but a YouTube clip has had more than 150,000 views. "It works for me, no?" said the 20-time European Tour winner, thumping his chest.

"So why change? Let the young players do what they want."

This is a man of routine and tradition, in apparent danger of becoming lost in a sport that evolves each day with fresh drivers and debates.

For over 30 years, all his golf and street shoes have been custom-made by a small family-owned business in Milan.

Even as sponsors offer free shuttles by sea and air, he drives to all the tournaments in Spain in the same red 1999 Ferrari 550 Maranello.

Jimenez sums up his world succinctly: "I give all my life to golf, and golf gives me all my life."

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