28 Mar

Road to Morocco leads to Hope fulfilled in Spain

Noted bon vivant Jiménez shares his secrets for preparing a traditional paella


THE WEEK BEFORE he had squandered a two-stroke overnight lead to finish second in the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco. This time Louis Oosthuizen took just a one-stroke lead into the final day of the Open de Andalucía at Málaga’s Parador, but was even more determined not to make it a fifth runner-up finish on the European Tour.

There were a couple of stumbles along the way – “I was quite nervous down the stretch and very nervous on the 18th tee” – but in the end the 27-year-old South African closed with a three-under 67 to secure a comfortable three-stroke first victory on the Tour, a place in the US Masters and a spot among the top 50 of the world rankings.

Joint second, on 14-under 266, were England’s Richard Finch and Peter Whiteford from Scotland; while the leading Spaniards were Gabriel Cañizares and Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño – who shared sixth on 269 with, among others, defending champion Søren Kjeldsen. Alvaro Quirós, a pre-tournament favourite and one of various “local” players for the galleries to follow, finished 45th on 278.

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Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño, tournament host Miguel Ángel Jiménez and new champion Louis Oosthuizen

Kjeldsen and 1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie had shared the opening round lead, after carding 65s. Oosthuizen and Sam Hutsby took over the leaders’ baton at the halfway stage, both carding 63s for a total of 130 – though the new course record of 62 (the course was reduced to a par-70 for the championship) was established by Paul Waring. With the cut coming at even-par, those packing their bags before the weekend included another home-town favourite, Pablo Martín, and Rhys Davies, the winner the previous week in Morocco.

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Equal best Spaniard Gabriel Cañizares

Thomas Levet, the 2008 winner, came through the field in the third round with a best-of-the-day 63, matched by Robert Coles, who ended the day on 197 – one shot behind the leader Oosterhuizen. Gabriel Cañizares, who received a special invitation to play from tournament promoter Miguel Ángel Jiménez and is one of two sons of veteran José María, was another stroke behind in third place. (The younger son, 2006 Russian Open winner Alejandro, was also in the field – he missed the cut by one shot.)

Once again the burden of promoting, organising and playing in the tournament proved too much for Miguel Ángel Jiménez. In 2007 at Aloha – the first year of the re-launched tournament (under the auspices of his company Fade and Draw Target) – the Churriana-born Jiménez finished 24th; the following year, also at Aloha, he was 19th; and last year in Sevilla, 14th.

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Promising young Englishman Sam Hutsby

On this occasion, on the same course where he had set a then course record 10-under-par 62 on the way to a three-stroke victory in the 1999 Turespaña Masters-Open de Andalucía, he finished 55th, having opened with a 71, made the cut by one stroke with a second-round 68, slipped to a 72 in the third round and closed with a 69 for a level-par 280.

The only Australian in the field was Andrew Tampion, who shot 70-70-75-71 for a share of 77th place.

(Photos: Michael Denker)

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Jiménez and Pablo Martín, winner of the first event of the current European Tour season – ironically in South Africa

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