Sunday’s golf: Jimenez holds on to win Tradition
Birmingham, Ala. — Miguel Angel Jimenez finally got to light up a victory cigar after winning a senior major championship.
Jimenez won the Regions Tradition on Sunday for his first PGA Tour Champions major title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a three-stroke victory. He celebrated with a big embrace from fellow Spaniard and two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who hoisted him in the air.
After a round of photos and speeches from local dignitaries, Jimenez finally got to break out the celebratory cigar.
“It’s time to have a medal in my pocket and it’s nice to be on the first major of the year,” he said.
Jimenez held or shared the lead after every round, taking a three-shot edge into the final round at Greystone Golf & Country Club. The Spaniard finished at 19-under 269 for his fifth PGA Tour Champions victory.
“It’s been a wonderful week,” he said. “My game was amazing, really.”
Steve Stricker, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers tied for second.
It was the third time Jimenez had entered the final round of a senior major with at least a share of the lead but the first one he has pulled out. He tied for third at the 2016 Senior British Open and for second at the 2016 U.S. Senior Open.
Durant and Sauers finished with matching 69s, and Stricker shot 70.
Jimenez birdied two of the final three holes including a closing putt for good measure.
Jimenez entered the day at 17 under to tie Gil Morgan’s 21-year-old Tradition record through 54 holes. He got off to a rough start with an errant tee shot into a tree-lined area on his way to a bogey, but he never lost his grip on the lead.
Jimenez had three bogeys after making just one over the first three rounds, but easily held off his challengers late.
His approach on No. 18 landed right in the center of the green after Stricker’s shot sailed well right into the gallery. He had rebuilt a two-stroke lead with a nice birdie putt on No. 16 while Durant and Stricker each had a bogey among the final three holes to leave Jimenez with a more comfortable cushion.
Stricker and Durant both had par on the final hole while Sauers also birdied to tie them. Durant had produced two eagles on No. 18 already in the tournament but couldn’t put pressure on Jimenez with a third.
Stricker’s assessment of his own performance, including a bogey on No. 17, was that he “made quite a few mistakes.”
“Just didn’t take care of my ball, really,” he said. “I put it in some bad spots, didn’t get it up and down when I had to a few times, missed a few putts. Yeah, just didn’t have it really, didn’t play that good, but still had a chance coming down to the end.”
Jeff Maggert finished with a 64 and was joined at 15 under by Scott McCarron (67) and Duffy Waldorf (66).
Jimenez made a birdie putt on No. 16 one hole after falling into a tie with Stricker with a bogey. Durant faltered, too, with a bogey on No. 16.
“When (Stricker) made birdie and I make a bogey on the 15th, everything’s going up again very tight,” Jimenez said. “It’s time to hole a putt on 16, for me that makes all the difference.”
Stricker had two wins in his first four senior tour events this year and remains second on the money list. He has finished in the top five in each of his events.
Bernhard Langer finished five strokes off the lead in his bid to become the first to win the Tradition three straight years. He shot 66-67 over the final two rounds after a slow start.
Aaron Wise cruised to his first PGA Tour victory at Dallas, shattering the AT&T Byron Nelson record at 23 under on a new course in a race to finish before nightfall after a four-hour rain delay.
The 21-year-old rookie shot a 6-under 65 to beat Marc Leishman by three strokes as both became the first to finish the Nelson at 20 under or better in the first year at Trinity Forest. The treeless links-style layout was defenseless with softer fairways and greens and no wind once the morning storms passed.
The Nelson celebrated its 50th anniversary with a return to Dallas after 35 years at the TPC Four Seasons in suburban Irving. Rory Sabbatini set the previous record on that par-70 layout at 19-under 261 in 2009.
Wise, the 2016 NCAA individual champion at Oregon, reached 20 under with his third birdie in the first seven holes.
Branden Grace matched his career-best 62 from last year’s British Open – which was the lowest round ever in a major – and finished at 19 under with J.J. Spaun and Keith Mitchell, who had matching 63s.
Hometown star Jordan Spieth shot 67 to finish 11 under.
Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the second hole of a playoff at Williamsburg, Virginia, to win the Kingsmill Championship for the second time in three years.
Jutanugarn closed with a 5-under 66 to match Nasa Hataoka (67) and In Gee Chun (68) at 14-under 199.
Jutanugarn and Hataoka both birdied the first extra hole, with Chun dropping out. Hataoka putted first on the second extra hole and missed badly before Jutanugarn rolled in a 15-footer for her eighth career victory. The 22-year-old Thai star’s older sister, Moriya, won the HUGEL-JTBC Championship in Los Angeles in April for her first LPGA Tour victory
Jutanugarn started the day two shots behind Chun and had a two-shot lead before making bogey at the par-5 15th. Hataoka, playing with Chun in the final threesome, birdied No. 15 to join Jutanugarn at 14 under, and Chun made a long birdie putt on the par-3 17th to also get to 14 under.
The tournament was cut from 72 holes to 54 when rain washed out play Saturday.
Brooke Henderson closed with a 65 to finish a shot back. Megan Khang was fifth after her third straight 67.