BILL DWYRE

At British Open, Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain keeps things lively

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Miguel Angel Jimenez

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez plays a shot out of a bunker onto the 18th green during the second round of the British Open on Friday. (Glyn Kirk / Getty Images / July 19, 2013)

Among the highlights of his round was a sand save on No. 18. He stood in the island bunker made famous by Ernie Els' sensational up and down to finally win the playoff and the title here in 2002. Jimenez was pin high, probably 50 feet away, and splashed it out to a foot. Another par. Another slip-up avoided.

Reporters kept asking him questions about being old, about being a short hitter, about the quirky things that make him so interesting and such an unlikely winner of an endurance test such as the British Open.

He was affronted by the question about whether he was too old to be leading an Open.

"Why? I have not the right to do it?" he said. "Only young people can do it?"

He handled the long-hitter question delightfully.

"No, I'm not one of the long hitters," he said. "Not anymore. Not before, also."

He was even asked about the danger his cigar might present in the midst of all this dry grass.

"Ha," he said. "I didn't smoke on the golf course. … I would like to sometimes, because, hey, it is tough out there, no?"

Yes, it is.

When the leaders were all finished around 8 p.m., with a mere two hours of daylight left, the leaderboard had one player at three under par and a school bus full of challengers, looking up.

What does seeing his name at the top mean to Jimenez?

"You put the smile on the face," he said, pushing up the corners of the same mouth where the fine wine and expensive cigar were soon to go.

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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