Spaniards riding high at Muirfield

  • Last Updated: July 18 2013, 14:26 BST

Twenty five years after the late Seve Ballesteros won the last of his three Open titles, fellow Spaniards Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Miguel Angel Jimenez were riding high on the leaderboard at Muirfield.

Cabrera-Bello: Splendid round of 67
Cabrera-Bello: Splendid round of 67

Jimenez, vice-captain to Ballesteros in the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama, carded a three-under-par 68 that was surpassed minutes later by Cabrera-Bello in the group behind with a 67.

"It's only the first day, I have not even thought about winning," Cabrera-Bello said when reminded about the anniversary of Ballesteros' Lytham triumph in 1988.

"It would be a huge dream but it's not something that I am thinking about or have set as a goal at the minute."

The 29-year-old was quick to praise the influence of 49-year-old compatriot Jimenez, who broke his leg in a skiing accident last winter, shortly after becoming the oldest winner in European Tour history in Hong Kong at the age of 48 and 318 days.

"Miguel is one of the players that has influenced my game a lot," Cabrera-Bello added. "He has a great attitude, a different but admirable way that he plays golf.

"Physically I look a little different to Miguel. Not saying that I look better, I'm just saying different! But what I admire about Miguel - and it's something that I have tried to copy - is that every time Miguel goes to any tournament he's given himself everything he needs to feel comfortable.

"And whether that is his wines or that is his cigars, whatever he needs he just gives them to himself and that way he tees up completely enjoying every part of the week and giving himself the best chance to perform as good as we all know he can.

"There is very good camaraderie between all the Spanish guys. It's something that makes our life very enjoyable on Tour. Not necessarily that Miguel is the captain, because we call Jose Maria Olazabal captain. But he's definitely a very big part of the team or the Spanish Armada, or however you want to catalogue it."

Jimenez had already lived up to Cabrera-Bello's description, telling a post-round press conference: "It would be great if one of the Spanish win the tournament, especially if myself, even better. I would love to have a major in my career, but you never know what's going to happen.

"The only thing you have to do is to enjoy yourself. Don't think about to win or not to win. The more important thing is enjoy yourself and be happy on the golf course, be happy with what you're doing. And that's it. Simple."

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