SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Miguel Angel Jimenez completed a wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the Sanford International, the PGA Tour Champions’ first event with fans since returning from a break for the coronavirus pandemic.
Jimenez closed with a 5-under 65 at Minehaha Country Club to beat Steve Flesch by a stroke. The 56-year-old Spanish star won for the second time this season and 10th on the 50-and -over tour.
“How am I going to celebrate?” Jimenez said. “We start already. We have some wine here, it’s my favorite drink. Nice cigar, Arturo Fuentes. … The short period you’re going to be here in this world, enjoy yourself.”
Tied for the second-round lead with Steve Stricker, Jimenez eagled the par-5 12th for the second time in three days and played the four par-5 holes in 4 under with birdies on Nos. 4 and 16.
“That hole is beautiful,” Jimenez said about the 12th. “Five-under par in three days, eagle-birdie-eagle, and especially today after hitting a beautiful drive into the wind, I have 208 meters, 230 yards, to the hole and it’s perfect for my 5-wood into the wind. Is becoming like a 245 yards and that’s a distance perfect for my 5-wood. I hit a beautiful shot right to the flag and 5-foot putt for eagle. Knock it in.”
He parred the final two holes to finish at 14-under 196.
Flesch eagled the 16th in a 63. He had shoulder surgery in May.
“It’s just progressively getting better,” Flesch said. “It’s about at 90%, but nice warm days like this help and I just think I’m getting healthier and finally I’m getting more rhythm where I’m just playing golf instead of worrying about how I feel.”
Stricker shot a 67 to tie for third with Bernhard Langer (65) at 12 under. Stricker won the inaugural event in 2018, then skipped his title defense last year. The only player at Minehaha set to play next week in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, he bogeyed the par-3 17th and finished with a par.
“A little disappointing for me today, the finish in particular,” Stricker said. “Had some opportunities. Hit a horrible shot at 17. I’ve been fighting the lefts kind of all week with my irons. Just not very good feel or comfortable with the irons at all. Just crept in there again there at 17, hit a bad shot. But I hung tough, hung tough every day and putted pretty well, but disappointing finish.”
Scott Parel was 11 under after a 62. Jerry Kelly (66) and David Toms (67) followed at 10 under.
Fred Couples, a stroke back entering the round, followed a second-round 64 with a 72 to fall into a tie for 25th at 6 under.
Country singer Colt Ford was last in the 81-man field in PGA Tour Champions debut. Playing on a sponsor exemption, he shot 74-78-72 to finish at 14 over — a stroke better than fellow sponsor exemption Gary Nicklaus.