Jimenez hits out at Els revamp
Miguel Angel Jimenez (File)
Madrid - Miguel Angel Jimenez has added his voice to a chorus of criticism about the redesign of Wentworth's West Course, comparing it to scrawling a line across a Picasso masterpiece.
Jimenez said he did not understand why Wentworth owner Richard Caring had spent 6.5 million pounds implementing changes drawn up by Ernie Els, which left few of the 18 holes untouched.
"If you had a Picasso in a frame would you say 'Now I want to see a line there'," said Jimenez, drawing an imaginary one in the air with a finger.
"You cannot touch a masterpiece and it's the same with a golf course," added the 46-year-old Spaniard, who has been playing the famous course for 22 years.
"It's like if you have an historic building. You cannot touch it without permission."
Els this week hit out at players who criticised his redesign, telling Reuters they had "put the knife" into him, while Caring has acknowledged mistakes had been made and said that he would take the blame.
Several competitors at the PGA Championship complained in the media about the changes, especially the new moat and elevated green at the 18th.
"Now it's a completely different golf course," Jimenez told Reuters at the Madrid Masters in an interview organised by the Spanish capital's bid to host the 2018 Ryder Cup.
"You need to hit everything down the middle and the bunkers are too deep. If you are in there you cannot hit any shot to the green," he added. "It's not fun anymore."
The flamboyant Jimenez, who wears his thick red hair in a ponytail and likes to chomp on a fat Cuban cigar, has made an important contribution to European Ryder Cup teams down the years and said he would love to play at the next edition in October in Newport, Wales.
"Probably this is my last chance," the 16-times European Tour event winner said.
"I still think I have something to contribute but the players who are on the best form are going to qualify.
"There are a lot of new people coming on the tour now and it's getting more difficult for the old guys."
With the rolling hills of the Real Sociedad Hipica Club de Campo course spread out behind him, he said he was still filled with passion for the game and would probably continue playing on the seniors tour when he turned 50.
One of seven brothers, Jimenez took up golf at the age of 15 and was inspired by watching compatriot Seve Ballesteros and Britons Sandy Lyle and Sam Torrance.
"Every time I put the ball down on the first tee I still feel like I want to keep playing," he said.
"But now there are young people coming up who want to kick the ass of the older guys, the same way I did when I came on the tour," he added.
"I still feel I can play four rounds of golf in a tournament and as long as you are in there playing you can win anything."
Reflecting on changes in the game over his three-decade career, he said there was a lot more emphasis on power and fitness had become much more important.
"I'm allergic to the gym," he joked. "But it's the new era, the new golf. It's much more robotic the way we play now."