CALGARY—Golf’s most interesting man will meet the reformed Scottish curmudgeon tomorrow in a battle of birdies to decide the Shaw Charity Classic.
Ageless Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, 51, will go head to head with Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, while a host of golf legends sit only a few shots back at Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club.
Jimenez tied the course record Friday, making seven birdies and ending with an eagle on his final hole to shoot 61. Jimenez, whose fondness for cigars, wine and woman is well documented, followed his round by heading to the Canyon Meadows clubhouse, throwing on a cooking apron, and whipping up prawns for those lucky enough to gain entry. For anyone other than Jimenez, it would seem odd; for the Spaniard it seemed completely in character. Often compared to the actor in the Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world,” commercials, you could almost imagine Jimenez saying, “I don’t always shoot 61, but when I do I throw on an apron and grill up some prawns.”
Montgomerie, who shot 8-under 62 in the first round, followed it up with a mixed 4-under 68 that included some missed putts for birdie on the final holes. Montgomerie, a member of the Golf Hall of Fame, praised Jimenez.
WATCH: Colin Montgomerie at the Shaw Charity Classic
“He’s one of the few player sin the world that has approved in his forties, never mind carrying on to his fifties,” he said. “Not many improve over forty—if any. But he has.”
That’s not to say Montgomerie is prepared to hand the tournament to Jimenez. Montgomerie, 51, is also having a solid year, having won the Senior PGA Championship.
“I feel as if I’m playing as well as I have for many years, many years indeed—about 10,” Montgomerie said. “And the more you play, the more competitive you are, the better you tend to play.”
Jeff Maggert, who has won two Champions Tour majors this year, sits two shots behind the leader, along with defending champion Fred Couples, who is tied for fourth, four shots behind, and Calgary’s Stephen Ames, who sits tied at sixth after shooting 4-under par 68.
Couples, who played with Jimenez and Maggert, said the pair of golfers made it look easy.
“Those guys weren’t sweating those scores,” Couples said.
Everyone in the star-studded field are chasing the two Europeans, who have 52 European Tour wins between them and have competed on numerous Ryder Cup teams together.
Jimenez is no stranger to great golf or controversy. Often found with a cigar in his mouth, and with an elaborate pre-round stretching routine that is so unusual you can find it on Youtube.com, Jimenez almost ended up in a fight with Keegan Bradley at the 2015 World Golf Championships following a disagreement.
Carrying Jimenez’s bag is his wife, Susanne, whose posterior caught the golfer’s eye at a tournament in Austria a few years ago. The two were married in 2011. When Jimenez’s regular caddie couldn’t get the proper paper work to get into Canada, Susanne volunteered to loop her first golf tournament. And while Jimenez made some adjustments—he traded in the large heavy leather tour bag to allow Susanne, a low handicap golfer, to carry a lighter model with a stand—he said she’s been a great help—so far.
“Well at the moment it is good,” Jimenez said slyly. “At the moment the relationship is going to keep going on. Don’t worry.”
While splitting time between the Champions Tour, the European Tour and the PGA Tour, Jimenez remains one of the game’s great characters. He’s notoriously honest and outspoken, telling Sports Illustrated earlier this year that life is good, even when his golf isn’t up to par.
“I’m surrounded by friends and family, tonight I will eat good food, drink good wine, smoke a good cigar and make love to my beautiful wife,” Jimenez said. “It’s a good life, no?”
Hard to argue with.
Regardless of whether Montgomerie or Jimenez prevails in the final round, the pair are sharing a private plane on Sunday to Wisconsin where they are both playing in the year’s final PGA Tour major, the PGA Championship.