Jimenez plans to keep Andalucian Open alive

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 14, 2012

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 07: Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain during the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club on February 7, 2010 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Miguel Angel Jimenez plans to keep contributing money from his own pocket to assure the continuation of the Andalucian Open. Jimenez, who is based in Malaga and is the tournament's promoter, has won 18 times on the European Tour, including four in the Andalucian region. And he has reportedly given ?500,000 ($560,000) over the past three years to keep the Andalucian Open going. ''It is very important for me that this tournament goes forward and all I am trying to do is do my best,'' Jimenez said. ''With the way the economy is at present it is difficult to stage any big sporting event because it is not easy to find sponsorship money. ''So, while it would be very easy for me to give up I don't want to give up and want there to be a tournament in this region of Spain.'' This year's tournament will be played at the Aloha course near Marbella on the Costa del Sol. The ?1 million ($1.3 million) purse is one of the smallest on the 2012 Race to Dubai schedule, but Jimenez has managed to attract former major winners Rich Beem (2002 PGA Championship), Mike Weir (2003 Masters) and Michael Campbell (2005 U.S. Open). Paul Lawrie, the defending champion and 1999 British Open winner, and two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal have been forced out of the event through illness and injury. Lawrie is struggling with a chest infection and now faces a three-week wait to be assured of competing in the Masters for the first time since 2004. The 43-year-old Scot is currently ranked 45th in the world and needs to remain inside the top 50 to be assured of playing in the season's first major. Lawrie would have been the highest ranked player competing in Spain this week but his withdrawal leaves the 51st-ranked Jimenez with that honor. ''I sent Miguel Angel Jimenez a text to say sorry but I'm not well enough to play, I hope he understands,'' Lawrie said. ''I have spent all day on the couch, one minute sweating and the next minute freezing.''
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