GOLF-EUROPEAN-JIMENEZ:Jimenez blasts Spanish chiefs for lack of support
By Tony Jimenez
DUBAI (Reuters) - Miguel Angel Jimenez has hit out at the Spanish Golf Federation for failing to provide any backing in his attempt to keep the Andalucia Open on the European Tour schedule.
Jimenez, who landed his 19th tour title when he won last week's Hong Kong Open, has been the Andalucia Open's tournament promoter since 2007.
The event is not listed on the schedule for 2013 but the 48-year-old told Reuters in an interview in Dubai that he was doing everything he could to keep it going and was getting no support from Spanish federation chief Gonzaga Escauriaza.
"I haven't had any help at all from the federation," said Jimenez after carding a one-under-par 71 for a two-under tally of 142 at the DP World Tour Championship.
"I ask him every year for help and he always says he can't. The Spanish federation don't try at all to help with my tournament."
Spain hosted seven tournaments two years ago and was considered the jewel in the European Tour crown.
However, the economic crisis in the Iberian nation has had a profound effect on top-level golf with sponsors disappearing and prize funds being withdrawn.
The Andalucia Open, Mallorca Open, Castello Masters in Valencia, Madrid Masters and Andalucia Masters have all fallen by the wayside while the World Match Play will shift to Bulgaria next year - leaving the Spanish Open to fly the flag on its own in April.
"The thing that offends me is I don't get enough from the administration to help me with my tournament," added Jimenez, one of the tour's great characters who is a lover of fine wines and enjoys puffing on a Havana cigar on the course.
"I understand we are having a hard time in Spain but I'm trying to do something for the players, something for the tour, and I need some support.
"My tournament has cost me a huge amount of money over the years but I want to be very clear that I haven't received any help from the federation. I asked him (Ezcauriaza) and he said 'no'."
World number 59 Jimenez, who became the oldest player to win on the tour when he lifted the Hong Kong Open trophy aloft on Sunday, said he was still hopeful of bringing the Andalucia Open back to life.
"I'm trying to put the tournament on," he explained. "If I get the money I will put it on, if I don't get the money I can't put it on - it's impossible.
"I've got confidence that I will get some sponsorship. I'm not sure I will get enough but I will try."
In Jimenez's opinion the best way to get out of a recession is to invest.
"We have problems in European golf at the moment, there are less tournaments held on the continent every year, not just in Spain," he said.
"Every community wants to improve itself and it is sad when you start cutting and rationalising money. When you start to cut investments people suffer.
"It doesn't matter whether it's golf or something else, when you are in the mood to cut money from things you are cutting jobs and everything," added Jimenez, one of Jose Maria Olazabal's assistant captains at the Ryder Cup in September.
"We are going through a bad recession in Spain but the less you invest the more recession you will have - simple. You need to spend money."
(Editing by John Mehaffey)