She oozes charm and good golf. She is Noemí Jiménez, the 22-year-old golfer who has made her debut this year on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and also on the Symetra Tour in the United States, enrolling there in an effort to secure – at the end of the season – a card to play on the US LPGA Tour. The Finca Cortesín resort on the Costa del Sol has confidence in her talent, and has become of her sponsors.
A graduate of Arizona State University, where she studied business and tourism, Noemí began her new life after summer, moving into the world of professional golf. When we interviewed her at the end of March, she had played in one tournament on each circuit. Her LET debut was in the New Zealand Open, where she came up against world number one Lydia Ko – and finished in a magnificent eighth position. In her first appearance on the Symetra, she was 13th.
“I was really keen to begin,” she said, “and I hope that at the end of the year I can hold on to my European card – even win a tournament on this circuit – and also secure my LPGA card for next year.”
- How was the experience in your first tour start, with none other than Lydia Ko as a rival?
- It was an unforgettable experience to measure myself against her on the same course, in the same tournament. There were loads of people supporting her and the atmosphere was incredible.
- What do you have to do to win an LPGA Tour card?
- I have to finish among the top 10 at the end of the year, and there are 25 tournaments. I’m planning to play in 16; I can’t play any more because I have to compete in a minimum number of tournaments on the European Tour. The aim is to win enough points to finish among the top 10.
- You cut your golfing teeth at Royal Guadalmina Golf Club, the same as Azahara Muñoz. What is it that this Marbella club has to bear such excellent fruit?
- Maybe it’s the golf academy, that they take us to tournaments from a young age; we had classes on Saturdays, and there was a fantastic atmosphere, really fantastic, and in the end you start growing there as a golfer.
- And now you have reached agreement to represent Finca Cortesín around the world. What does that mean for you?
- For me it’s an honour to represent this club. I’ve always really looked forward to being able to come here to practise, and in the end, thanks to my achievements, I’ve accomplished that. I’m very happy.
- What can you tell us about the course?
- It’s spectacular. I try to play from the yellow markers, and it resembles American courses a lot. So it’s good practice for the tournaments I have in the United States.
- What differences do you find between the tours you are playing, the Symetra and the European?
- For prizemoney, the European Tour is more important. Both are well organised but you could say that the European Tour is first division, and obviously there’s quite an atmosphere and a high level, but the Symetra is improving with the years and it’s thought that in the future you will have to play on that tour in order to be able to move on to the LPGA, without competing at the qualifying schools – the same as with the guys.
- What was it like competing on The Gecko Tour with male rivals?
- It was very good for me to get into a competitive rhythm, and it’s a good tour, perfect for the pre-season period and even more so because it’s played near home and you can win some money.
- What tournaments do you think are the most interesting and appeal to you most on the European Tour?
- I’m really keen about the tournaments to be played in Dubai at the end of the year, for the atmosphere, the surroundings in general; and because they are co-sanctioned (belonging to two or more circuits) there are players from other tours and the level is much higher. The one in Morocco, in Rabat, also appeals to me quite a bit because with all the travel I have to do this year it’s relatively close to home (Noemí lives in Marbella) and it has good prizemoney.
- With so much travel scheduled this year, how will you combat jet lag?
- I try to sleep where I can and when I can, and for flights I take some natural melatonin pills, which help you get some sleep. Little by little I get over the jet lag, but it’s tough because I don’t stop travelling.