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Jimenez covets playing role at Ryder Cup first and foremost

Miguel Angel Jimenez has revealed he is likely to be one of Paul McGinley's vice-captains for the Ryder Cup, but only if he does not fulfil his ambition to play at Glen­eagles instead.

The Spaniard celebrated his 50th birthday on Sunday by travelling to Durban for this week's Volvo Golf Champions, an event for which he qualified by successfully defending his Hong Kong Open title in December.

That play-off victory not only gave Jimenez his 20th European Tour win - 13 of them have come since he turned 40 - but also extended his own record as the oldest winner in Tour history and gave him a genuine chance to become Europe's oldest Ryder Cup player as well; Ted Ray was 50 years, two months and five days old at the inaugural contest in 1927.

"If I play well, I believe I will be on the team," said Jimenez, whose last appearance as a player came at Celtic Manor in 2010. "It's very difficult to maintain a high level but, if my game is there, I will be there. It would mean a lot to me, it's still breaking records."

McGinley, who was a vice-captain alongside Jimenez for the "Miracle at Medinah" in 2012, has said he will not name his assistants until May or June so he can have a better idea of how the team is shaping up.

"We had a few words and he wants me to be a captain in the EurAsia Cup [a team event between Asia and Europe in March]," added Jimenez. "I'm going to do that and if I'm not on the Ryder Cup team, probably I will be helping him [at Gleneagles].

"I am going to keep working hard on my game because I would like to be there with the clubs in the hands. If you are not playing well, you don't want to be on the team, it's a lot of responsibility. It means a lot to me and many players and you need to know that you are in good shape."

Jimenez is now eligible for the Seniors Tour and has confirmed he will compete in the Senior British Open at Royal Porthcawl this summer, but has no intention of joining the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer on a full-time basis. "I turned 50 but I look in the mirror and I see the same guy, he hasn't changed," added Jimenez, who admitted he feared his career was over when he broke his leg in a skiing ­accident in December 2012. "When I turned 40, I had five victories and it was the most successful year I've had. The golf I played at that moment was unbelievable. I still play very well, I still hit the same distance.

"I know that you cannot win every time, but I feel like I can be in contention and win tournaments. If I play well and the best I can do is 15th, then I can pack in golf. For me, coming on the Tour just to get a salary, it's better to go home. The motivation and why I work, why I keep doing what I'm doing, it's because I love to compete with the best and I want to win."

He may not be ready to line-up alongside Montgomerie on a full-time basis on the Seniors Tour just yet, but the desire to compete at the highest level is something the Scot can relate to as he bids to show his younger colleagues the way in South Africa this week.

"I'll be playing in 18 out of the 26 events on the Champions Tour this year, which is classified a full schedule," said Montgomerie, who celebrates his 27th full season in the professional ranks this year.

"So I'm really excited about it as I'm looking forward to being able to compete. I probably should have done better in the last event in San Antonio, having led by two shots heading into the final nine then finishing third after letting it slip a wee bit. But, at the same time, it gives me confidence that I can go over there and hopefully win before too long.

"It's great that Miguel is joining us this year, as are Davis Love and Scott Verplank. When you put them against the likes of Duffy Waldorf, Steve Elkington, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer and Kenny Perry, the standard is extremely high."

Another Scot hoping for a good week's work in Durban is Stephen Gallacher, the reigning Dubai Desert Classic winner.

"I want to get off to a good start, which was one of the reasons I played in the Royal Trophy last month," said Gallacher who, at 66th in the world ranking, is just two places outside qualifying for next month's WGC Match-Play Championship in the United States.

"I didn't' want to be coming here feeling too rusty, especially after tinkering with my swing a bit towards the end of the 2013 campaign. I'm also right on the border for the WGC Match Play at the moment and the aim is to get into that again."

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