Miguel Angel Jimenez is old enough to play on the Champions Tour, the series for older golfers.
The 50-year-old is the oldest competitor in the field at Doral, but he can still hold his own with the young, rising stars. He captured a European Tour event last year in Hong Kong and was the only player not to make a bogey during his opening round.
“I still enjoy what I do; that’s the main thing,” Jimenez said of his longevity. “I enjoy to play golf, and I enjoy to compete. I’m not lazy to go and go to practice or go to the putting green or go to the gym [and] work.”
He had all the momentum going until his 26th hole of the tournament, the par-4 17th. Jimenez made his first bogey of the week on that hole, and in the subsequent five holes posted a bogey, double bogey and triple bogey to move from 2-under-par to 5-over. He quickly went from the top of the leaderboard to the middle and looked to be out of contention. Jimenez finished Friday at 3-over thanks to two birdies on his final five holes, but it felt like the Spaniard’s magic was lost.
Then, on the eighth hole Saturday, his hopes sprung back to life. He tapped in for birdie and went on a roll, holing four putts from more than 10 feet, including two that dropped for birdies. His average made putt was 10 feet on the back nine, and it helped catapult him into a tie for sixth at even par, four shots behind the leader.
“It’s difficult to put the ball close to the holes, and then you need some support from the putter,” Jimenez said. “That’s what I did well on the back nine.”
AN AWKWARD WALK
Ian Poulter was not a big fan of Hideki Matsuyama after Friday’s round was completed.
The Englishman was upset that the 22-year-old Japanese golfer made a dent in the green on the 13th hole by swinging his putter after a missed putt. Matsuyama did not repair the damage he made, and instead a referee had to fix the issue prior to Poulter and his group, which was right behind Matsuyama’s group, putting on the hole. Poulter blasted Matsuyama on Twitter afterward, calling him an “idiot.”
Strangely enough, the two were paired for Saturday’s third round, as both were at 5-over through two rounds. They hashed out their differences on the driving range prior to starting play, and Poulter said the issue is behind him.
“He’s a good guy, [and] he’s a good golfer,” Poulter said as he briskly walked toward the player dining area after his round. “We all make mistakes. He doesn’t have to apologize to me; it was in [ Charl Schwartzel’s] line.”
Matsuyama was extremely apologetic after the round for what he did the previous day. He said through a translator that he didn’t realize he caused any damage until Saturday morning and made the effort to apologize to all three players in the group. He chalked up the incident to frustration with both the conditions and his poor play.
“Ian can write what he’d like, and if that was the case, all I can do is apologize,” Matsuayama said. “I feel badly that it happened, and I feel bad that he even had to write about that.”
Matsuyama added that it was just a regular day on the golf course between the two of them. The evidence was in an uneventful handshake after Poulter carded a 1-over 73 and Matsuyama shot a 71.