Miguel Angel Jimenez is not one to mince words. The flamboyant, outspoken Spaniard never hesitates to speak his mind and he has done just that, once again. Earlier this week in an interview prior to the Omega European Masters at Crans Montana Golf Club in Switzerland, The Mechanic shared his thoughts on the participation of children in professional golf.
Ye Wo-Cheng, a 13-year-old from China, is playing the event this week thanks to a sponsor’s exemption – and Jimenez doesn’t exactly agree with the decision. “They should not be pushing kids his age too hard as it could have a disastrous effect on their careers,” said the 49-year-old Jimenez. “I hope he enjoys himself this week, but then I saw him hitting practice balls this morning, and he looked very nervous and he should not be in that position.” So it would appear that the issue Jimenez has with allowing kids to play these events is more about stunting their growth as players than anything else.
It seems like a logical rationalization for his argument. However, as he is wont to do, Jimenez continued speaking and brought up what is perhaps the real impetus behind his stance. “No doubt the sponsor wants publicity for the tournament,” the 49-year-old Jimenez said. “But then it seems you have to go looking for underage players to promote yourself. I’m sorry, this should not be allowed.”
Either way, it seems as if Jimenez spoke with the best interest of these kids in mind. That last statement just makes it appear as if there is some deep-seeded bitterness behind his rationale, though. While maybe not for the reasons he explained, I do agree with Jimenez. There are myriad grown men out there trying to make a living playing the game of golf. Had the sponsor of this event not been looking to make a publicity splash, Wo-Cheng’s spot would have likely gone to one of them. Instead, the tournament chose to invite a tween in order to grab some headlines.
In case you were wondering, Wo-Cheng finished the second round of the event at 12 over par and 22 shots off of the lead after carding scores of 78 – 76 over the first two days. Jimenez, on the other hand, is nine under par and just one shot behind leaders Stephen Gallacher and Thomas Bjorn.