Jimenez overcomes wandering readers in 67 at Cologuard Classic | Sports News

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By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Reporter

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Miguel Angel Jimenez shot his penultimate practice of the day in the water and still saved par. The next ride stopped so close to the water that it couldn’t get into a regular position, leading to a bogey.

Jimenez’ driver may have dropped him late, but his putter worked all day, putting the Spaniard in position to win for the second time in three PGA Tour Champions starts this season.

Jimenez overcame errant drives on the final two holes to shoot a 5-under 67 on Saturday and take a two-shot lead in the final round of the Cologuard Classic.

“The putter feels good today, much better than yesterday,” Jimenez said. “The game is very solid, but the putting today…I made a few putts.”

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Jimenez shared the first-round lead with Jeff Sluman after a 66 and had a three-stroke lead as he headed for the 17th tee. The 58-year-old managed to save par after hitting the water on the par-5 hole, but closed with a bogey after nearly hitting the water on the par-4 18. He was under 11.

Sluman shot 69 to reach 9 under in his bid to win on the senior circuit for the first time since 2014. Jerry Kelly was also two shots behind a 67, with Gene Sauers (68) and Woody Austin (69) at 8 under .

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Bernhard Langer was four shots behind a 67. The 64-year-old broke his own record as the oldest winner in PGA Tour champion history last week at the Chubb Classic with his 43rd career win, two behind Hale Irwin’s record. .

Jimenez opened the season with his 11th PGA Tour Champions victory at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii and finished fifth last week in Florida. He holed a hole-in-one on the par-3 seventh in his first round at Tucson National and notched the second of three consecutive birdies in the second round by completing a 40-foot putt on the same hole.

Jimenez birdied about 20 feet on the par-4 15th and missed another on the par-3 16th before getting in trouble.

His lead at three, Jimenez fired his tee shot into the water to the left of the 17th fairway and had to take a fall about 300 yards out. He carved a fairway wood out of a strand of trees in a greenside bunker and got up and down for par.

Jimenez fired a second straight tee shot at the No. 18 and took a break when a cable prevented his ball from rolling through the water. Unable to take a regular stance, he was forced to play wide and hit his third shot from 151 yards, two putts from 40 feet for a closing bogey.

“I tried to make a par, of course,” he said. “I hit a shot on the green and hit a really good putt and he almost got in. That’s the game.”

Sluman got off to a good start with three birdies on his first three holes before a tee shot into the par-4 sixth fairway bunker led to a bogey. He made 10 straight pars before putting in two shots from the fringe on the par-5 17th and just missed a birdie putt on the No. 18.

Sluman has finished in the top 10 in 55 starts over the past three seasons, but has put himself in a strong position in the desert.

“I like my place right now and we’re going to go out and hopefully play as laid back and as carefree as possible,” Sluman said.

Kelly cleared a first-round 68, including a failed par-save attempt from atop a grandstand. The eight-time PGA Tour Champions winner spent Friday afternoon working with coach Jim Schuman and again ahead of his round on Saturday.

Kelly had much better control of his swing in the second round as he birdied three times to turn the front nine 2-under 34. He added another birdie on the par-5 12th and closed strong, with birdies on the numbers 16-17 – the second after going up and down from a greenside bunker on par 5.

“I still had a few loose shots a few times, but overall it was a lot better than yesterday,” Kelly said. “Just keep making putts here, giving yourself chances because you can get a lot of them.”

He’s going to need it on Sunday like Jimenez does.

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