Miguel Angel Jimenez ran over the field at Fallen Oak
BILOXI — The cigar-puffing man with a bushy ponytail known as “The World’s Most Interesting Golfer” played one of most interestingly superb rounds of golf of his career Sunday.
The result was a record-breaking, final-round 64 and a two-shot victory for Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez in the Gulf Resorts Classic presented by C Spire. Jimenez made four straight birdies and made birdies on five of the first six holes on the back nine to overtake second-round leader Scott Dunlap and Jerry Smith, who led briefly in the third round.
You almost had to feel for Dunlap, who led by two shots entering the final round and closed with a quite respectable 69 over the challenging 7,159-yard, par-72 Fallen Oak course. His 54-hole total of 12-under par 204 would have won the last three PGA Tour Champions events played here.
“I’s not like I threw it away,” Dunlap said afterward. “He took it. I feel like I got run over. I mean, he shot 64 on a very difficult golf course. I got run over by a guy with a ponytail and a paunch, smoking cigars.”
Jimenez’s charge began on the par-4 10th where he hooked his drive into the rough and then had to hook a 6-iron to get his ball to the fringe of the green, some 55 feet from the hole.
He drained the putt and then did a little victory dance that delighted the gallery.
“The key was the putt on the 10th hole,” Jimenez said.
That was the first of four birdies in a row and really the only difficult putt. Jimenez’s ball-striking for the final eight holes was nearly perfect.
Perhaps his best shot came on the difficult, 205-yard, par-3 17th hole. His dagger was a 5-iron, hit with a draw that landed about 15 feet short of the hole, rolled to within a foot of the cup and then settled about 15 feet past the hole.
“Solid,” Jimenez said, puffing a victory cigar. “It was a perfect golf shot.”
Jimenez has now won three times in 10 PGA Tour Champions starts.
Said Dunlap of the victor: “He’s just a great ball-striker and shotmaker. I enjoy playing with him and I’m sure he loves to see me coming. I played with him in Hawaii last year when he shot lights out and won.
“I looked it up then and saw where at age 50 he was still ranked the 38th best player in the world,” Dunlap said. “I said then if he’s 38th, I don’t want to see the 37 who are better.”
Jimenez was a popular winner with the huge throng of fans who lined the fairways and packed the hospitality tents at the ninth, 17th and 18th holes.
Poplarville native Glen Day, who turned 50 last fall, shot a final round 70 and finished tied for sixth with Bernhard Langer for the best finish of his brief Champions career.
To the victor, goes the trophy. (Photo by William Colvin)