Jimenez up by 1 shot in Greater Gwinnett
AP Sports Writer
DULUTH, Ga. — Fun-loving Miguel Angel Jimenez might turn the Champions Tour into his personal cigar-and-wine club. Ever-serious Bernhard Langer keeps churning out sub-par rounds. Bad back and all, Fred Couples is thriving in the wind and cold rain.
It makes for an enticing last group in Sunday’s final round of the Greater Gwinnett Championship.
Jimenez, continuing his impressive tour debut, shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday and leads by one stroke after two days at TPC Sugarloaf.
Langer and Couples each had a 68 in the second round. Langer is one stroke back of Jimenez and Couples is two back, setting up Sunday’s all-star final group.
“That’s about as good a pairing as you’re going to get,” Couples said. “I’m thrilled about that, to have a shot at winning.”
Added Langer: “It should be an exciting shootout. … Whoever is going to win tomorrow is going to play some good golf.”
Jimenez, Langer and Couples carried over their momentum after strong finishes last week in the Masters. Jimenez was fourth, Langer tied for eighth and Couples tied for 20th in Augusta.
“When you come in from a major like the Masters and you are playing well there, you are like in tune, you know?” Jimenez said.
Jimenez began the day with a three-stroke lead following his tournament-record 65 on Friday. After the round he said he couldn’t wait for “a nice, warm shower, a nice fat cigar and a glass of (wine).”
Langer was tied with Jimenez for the lead at 8 under entering Saturday’s final hole. Jimenez had a birdie on No. 18. Langer missed putts for eagle and birdie before settling for par and his second straight 68.
Sunday will mark the third straight round Langer and Jimenez have played in the same group.
Before the tournament, Langer predicted Jimenez will “leave his mark” on the Champions Tour. That opinion hasn’t changed.
“He’s very much the same, he’s very steady and very methodical and really doesn’t have too much of a weakness,” Langer said. “Drives the ball well, hits some good irons and putts it very well so that’s why he’s on top of the leaderboard right now.”
Jimenez is trying to become the second straight player to win in his Champions Tour debut. Jeff Maggert won the tour’s last event in Saucier, Miss., on March 23.
Jay Haas, Chien Soon Lu, Duffy Waldorf, Kenny Perry and Steve Pate are tied for fourth at 5 under. Haas, Lu and Waldorf had 68s, and Perry and Pate had 71s.
Jimenez began his second round with a birdie, but he gave back three strokes on his next three holes. A double bogey on No. 4 dropped him to 5 under.
Langer also had his troubles early. He was tied for 10th and was 1 over for the day through eight holes. Just as there were whispers that his streak of 17 consecutive sub-par rounds on the tour could be in jeopardy, Langer had his first birdie of the day on No. 10. That putt sparked a streak of four birdies in six holes.
Couples moved into third place with a birdie on 17.
Tom Glavine, who will be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in July, joined former Braves teammate John Smoltz and former University of Georgia and Chicago Bears kicker Kevin Butler in a celebrity group playing for charity.
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