Saturday, May 26, 2018

Miguel Angel Jimenez leads first round in Champions debut

DULUTH, Ga. — 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!" He 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 65 Friday to lead the cold, soggy Greater Gwinnett Championship by three strokes.

"Very good start," he 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 last week at the Masters, was 6 under on his first nine holes, including 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 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 at Augusta.

"It's funny, you go from the PGA (Tour) to the Champions, it's so much more laid back and relaxed over here," Perry said. "Honestly, I didn't think he would shoot 65. … He's amazing."

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 might have limited time on the Champions Tour this year.

After Jimenez mentioned wine and cigars in his comments, 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."

PGA: K.J. Choi's early tee time and quick start moved him atop the leaderboard at the rain-delayed RBC Heritage in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Choi shot 4-under 67 to get to 5-under 137, one ahead of Robert Allenby and two in front of a group led by Luke Donald (69) and first-round co-leader Scott Langley (73) as the second round was suspended because of rain. Allenby was among 65 players, also including first-round co-leader Matt Kuchar, on the course when rain hit Harbour Town Golf Links. First-round co-leader William McGirt finished his round with 76 and was at par 142.

LPGA: Second-round leader Angela Stanford shot 5-under 67 to open a four-stroke lead at 13-under 203 after three rounds of the Lotte Championship in breezy Kapolei, Hawaii. Michelle Wie (70) and Hyo Joo Kim (69) were at 9 under.