Daily wrap-up: Greater Gwinnett Championship, Round 1
Miguel Angel Jimenez shoots 65 to lead Greater Gwinnett field
April 18, 2014
- April 18, 2014
- Miguel Angel Jimenez finished fourth at last week's Masters. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
DULUTH, Ga. (AP) -- Miguel Angel Jimenez's first round on the Champions Tour went quite well.
After one eagle, five birdies and a tournament record, Jimenez proclaimed "I love it!" and then departed in search of a couple of his usual staples.
So far, life is good for the Spaniard on the 50-and-over Tour.
Avoiding a post-Masters letdown, Jimenez shot a 65 on Friday to lead the cold, soggy Greater Gwinnett Championship by three strokes.
"Very good start," Jimenez said.
"Now it's time for a nice, warm shower, a nice fat cigar and a glass of Rioja. ... I'm desperate to find one of my cigars and have a glass of wine."
Jimenez, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Masters, was 6 under on his first nine holes, including an eagle on No. 18. He added another birdie on No. 2 and closed with seven straight pars at TPC Sugarloaf.
Bernhard Langer set the previous tournament record with a 66 while winning the 2013 inaugural championship.
Langer, Steve Pate and Kenny Perry are three strokes behind Jimenez.
Perry said he thought Jimenez might have a letdown after his strong finish in Augusta.
"It's funny, you go from the PGA to the Champions, it's so much more laid back and relaxed over here," Perry said. "The atmosphere is different. I actually didn't know what he'd do today. Honestly, I didn't think he would shoot 65. I thought he'd be more the other way, after a fourth-place finish, it'd be a letdown this week.
"He's amazing. He's fun to watch. He's a great player."
The 65 came six days after Jimenez shot the low round of the Masters, a third-round 66.
Jimenez is focused on making the European Ryder Cup team and may have limited time on the Champions Tour this year. Perry, the 2013 Player of the Year, said Jimenez will be good for the Tour.
"Yeah, we need guys like that out here," Perry said. "I mean, he's a huge fan favorite. He brings a lot of flair and class to golf and he just has a good time."
Miguel Angel Jimenez makes a successful debut at the Greater Gwinnett
Jimenez tried to sneak through the interview room as Perry was talking with reporters. Perry stopped to call out to Jimenez "Hope to see you tomorrow. Don't beat us too bad, OK?"
After Jimenez mentioned wine and cigars in his reply, Perry laughed and said "That guy has too much fun."
Asked if Jimenez might spark a Champions Tour trend with his well-known passions, Perry said: "If it works. If it's not broke, don't change it."
Fred Couples shot a 69, including a double bogey on No. 9, his finishing hole. Jeff Sluman also shot a 69.
Though light rain began soon after the round began and became more intense in the afternoon, there was no delay.
"It was as cold and ugly as you can get," Langer said. "It never stopped raining on us for two minutes."
Jimenez said the weather was just a nuisance.
"It's not easy because all day is wet," Jimenez said. "Not hard rain but these little things coming and coming, sometimes quicker."
Pate called his 68 "kind of unexpected" and a product of "smoke and mirrors." He said he struggled more with the temperatures, which dropped to about 50 by the end of his round, than with the rain.
"At a certain point I just got cold and it was hard to move," Pate said. "We're old. We don't like cold weather.
"This is really not my wheelhouse. I like it when it's about 95 degrees and I'm sweating."
Colin Montgomerie was part of a group of four at 70.
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Jimenez got off to a fast start in his Champions Tour debut, shooting a bogey-free 7–under 65, a tournament record score at TPC Sugarloaf, in his first-ever round on the circuit. Jimenez made four birdies and an eagle to shoot 6-under 30 on his first nine holes but he made just one birdie on his second nine.
He’s bidding to become the second consecutive player to claim his first start on the Champions Tour. On March 23, Jeff Maggert won the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic presented by C-Spire, becoming just the 17th player in history to win his first event in his initial appearance as a member of the Champions Tour.
Jimenez has 20 international victories in his career with his last title coming earlier this season at the UBS Hong Kong Open. His win in Hong Kong in December extended his own record as the European Tour’s oldest winner. Just weeks before his 50th birthday, Jimenez holed a clutch putt from 18 feet for birdie in a playoff.
Last week at Augusta National, Jimenez finished fourth in his 15th career start at The Masters the second- best performance by a player over 50 (50 years, 3 months, 8 days) at this event after Sam Snead’s T3 at the 1963 Masters, at age 50 years 10 months and 10 days. Jimenez was two strokes off the lead entering the final round.
First-Round Leader Statistics
Fairways Hit: 6/14 (T72); Greens In Regulation: 15/18 (T4); Putts: 27 (T11)
Thus far in 2014, first-round leaders have won just one of the first five Champions Tour events. Michael Allen enjoyed a three-stroke lead after shooting 12-under 60 on Friday at the Allianz Championship and ended up winning in a playoff.
Last year at TPC Sugarloaf, Michael Allen led after the first round was completed on Saturday morning with a 5-under-par 67. Bernhard Langer, the eventual winner, opened with a 1-over 73 and was T29 after Round 1.
Bernhard Langer extended his streak of sub-par rounds to 17 straight with a 4-under 68 today. Langer’s current run, dating back to last year, is instrumental in him posting 15 straight top-10 finishes on the Champions Tour and 16 straight overall after a T8 last week at The Masters.
Steve Pate continues to play well of late. Pate opened with a 4-under 68 today and now has shot sub-70 scores in six of his last eight rounds. Last month, Pate finished T2 at the Toshiba Classic and followed that performance up with a T6 at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic presented by C-Spire. On the PGA TOUR, Pate was a runner-up at both the 1985 and 1991 BellSouth Atlanta Golf Classic.
Here’s how the five players in this year’s Greater Gwinnett Championship field who also made the cut at the Masters last week did in Round 1: Miguel Angel Jimenez (-7/1), Bernhard Langer (-4/T2), Fred Couples (-3/T5), Larry Mize (+1/T34) and Sandy Lyle (+3/T55).
In addition to Jimenez, four-time PGA TOUR winner Joe Durant made his Champions Tour debut today. Durant got off to a slow start and carded a 2-over 74. Durant started bogey-bogey but then played his last 16 holes at TPC Sugarloaf in even par.
John Cook played in his first Champions Tour event since withdrawing from the Allianz Championship in early February with sore ribs. Cook’s 10-over 82 today was his highest round on the Champions Tour, surpassing first-round 78s at the 2010 Senior PGA Championship and 2010 Constellation Senior Players Championship.
The field scoring average for the first round was 73.747, the highest for any round on the 2014 Champions Tour. Last year’s first-round scoring average at TPC Sugarloaf was 73.800, at the time, also the highest for any round on the Champions Tour. There were just 18 players that broke par today compared to just 20 players that broke par in Round 1 last year at TPC Sugarloaf.
Jeff Sluman made his 84th straight appearance on the Champions Tour today and carded a 3-under 69. Sluman has not missed a start on the circuit since skipping the 2010 Ensure Classic at Rock Barn.
David Frost’s streak of consecutive holes without a three-putt ended at 251 straight with a three-putt bogey at the par-4 15th hole today. Colin Montgomerie, who came into this week with a run of 220 straight holes without a three putt extended his run of holes without a three-putt to 238 straight.
Mark Wiebe withdrew from the event with congestion in his chest. Wiebe shot 40 on the front nine and withdrew at the turn. D.A. Weibring withdrew from the event after 15 holes with a back injury.
With rain expected to last in the Atlanta area into Saturday morning, second-round tee times have been adjusted. Play will now begin tomorrow from both the 1st and 10th tees at 10:50 a.m.