Jimenez has benefited from the Seve effect

Sam Torrance
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SPAIN’S Miguel Angel Jimenez achieved an incredible record on Sunday, and I can’t help wondering whether his enduring success doesn’t owe something to the inspirational qualities of his great countryman, the late Seve Ballesteros.

Jimenez completed a third bogie-free round to claim the Hong Kong Open and become the oldest man to win a European Tour event, just five weeks short of his 49th birthday.

His style, which relies on craft rather than a brilliant swing or ferocious driving power, has helped prolong a career that has now gleaned 19 titles on the tour.

Incredibly for a man who turned professional in 1982, 17 of those 19 wins have come since Seve asked him to be vice-captain at the 1997 Ryder Cup, when Europe beat the Americans at Valderrama.

Seve once gave me an enormous lift, after I had played with and beaten him to win the 1980 Australian PGA Championship. As we came off he said: “You’re very tough to beat.” It was a tremendous confidence boost.

Maybe he had a similar effect on his fellow Spaniard and pupil Jimenez, because something seemed to change in him after that Ryder Cup. His latest great achievement looks like lasting for a very long time.

Elsewhere, Luke Donald’s victory in Japan lifted him back into second in the world rankings. With Rory McIlroy at the top, it’s great to see a European one-two and Luke has done very well to follow his magnificent 2011.

Further congratulations are due to 21-year-old former English amateur champion Tommy Fleetwood, who clinched his European Tour card for next year with a tied-sixth placed finish at the South African Open.

Fleetwood won the Challenger Tour last year and will be delighted to be staying in the big time, while it was also pleasing to see Swede Henrik Stenson win the tournament and lift his first title for three and a half years.

Finally, I was surprised and not happy to hear that Lee Westwood has dropped his caddie, Billy Foster.

Lee works with him so I’m sure he knows more about it than me, but I believe Billy’s the best out there and I’d like to see him back on his bag when he has fully recovered from a knee operation.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam