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Miguel Angel Jimenez heads home challenge at Spanish Open

A good performance in Shanghai gave Miguel Angel Jimenez a timely lift ahead of this week's Spanish Open where he will lead the attempt to end a five-year wait for a home victory.

The host nation have not witnessed a Spanish win at one of Europe's oldest open championships since Sergio Garcia lifted the trophy at El Cortijo in 2002.

Jose Manuel Lara (Hong Kong Open) and Alvaro Quiros (Alfred Dunhill Championship) will have been encouraged by their victories earlier this season while Alejandro Canizares and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano were tour winners in 2005-06.

But no Spaniard in the field has better credentials than the charismatic Jimenez.

The 43-year-old former Ryder Cup player has 13 tour victories to his name and a share of 10th position in the Asian Open on Sunday could provide the launch pad for a strong challenge for the first prize of 333,330 euros ($452,200) at Madrid's new Centro Nacional de Golf.

Organisers have sanctioned several alterations to the course to ensure it offers a proper championship test.

Many fairways have been narrowed while tees will be pushed back on the second, fourth, fifth, 10th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes to lengthen the par-72 layout to 7,242 yards.

Sweden's Niclas Fasth captured the title at the San Roque Club 12 months ago when he edged out Briton John Bickerton with a birdie at the fourth playoff hole.

The five-times tour winner will have good cause for a double celebration if he wins again as Fasth turns 35 on Sunday.

The Spanish Open, which was first played in 1912, offers a total prize fund of two million euros.


April 24, 2007

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