Jimenez overcomes difficult scoring conditions to lead U.S. Senior Open

Columbus, OH — Scoring under par in Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Senior Open Championship was difficult as four players of the 63 who made the cut shot sub-70 rounds.

One of those four was Miguel Angel Jimenez who leads the U.S. Senior Open by one stroke over Gene Sauers after three rounds of play.

Jimenez hopes the third time is the charm after holding sole possession of first place on the leaderboard for a third consecutive PGA TOUR Champions event. He lost a four shot lead at the Senior Open Championship and fell last week at the 3M Championship after again holding the third round advantage.

A win for Jimenez would be his second on the Champions Tour this season.

“Just keep playing golf and give myself patience, that’s the main thing,” he said. “Whatever happens happens. Obviously, at the Open in Scotland, I lost that tournament there without playing bad, you know, and here tomorrow we have to play 18 holes, and whatever happens happens. Just keep focused and enjoy yourself. That’s the main thing.”

Jimenez reached 5-under-par after a birdie on the par-5 12th hole before falling back two strokes to the field.

Sauers is no stranger to U.S. Senior Open leaderboards as he was in the final group of the 2014 event and in the lead. He would lose to Colin Montgomerie.

It was a messy scorecard for Sauers who led with a 5-under-par score after three holes also fell to even par before birdies on the par-4 16th hole and from off the green on the par-3 17th hole.

Now, Sauers has placed himself in position for a mulligan and another chance to earn his first PGA TOUR Champions victory.

“Just to stick with my game plan,” said Sauers. “Try not to do anything out of the ordinary and try not to get — just try to hit fairways and greens. Just try not to force yourself to where you’ve got to try to go at the pins. That’s where you get in trouble. So just give myself opportunities. That’s all I got to do tomorrow. Hopefully, they’ll fall.”

Ian Woosnam, Loren Roberts and Billy Mayfair each are tied for third with a one-over-par score through 54 holes.

“I’m due for a good putting round,” Woosnam said. “Hopefully, it will happen tomorrow. I played the first two rounds with Miguel. If I can get out with him again, I enjoy playing with him. He knows I’m playing well as well, so that will be interesting.”

Frost goes low

With scoring conditions the way they were, a 2-under-par round of 68 was the low round of the day and it belong to David Frost who was in the first group to tee off on the par-4 10th hole.

Through 10 holes, Frost was +1 on the round, but three birdies on his second nine rallied the round to one of four that were under par.

“I just really played sort of subconscious golf, I would say, on my back nine, the golf course’s front nine, and really tried to compress the golf ball because of the strong gusts of wind out there,” he said. “Luckily, I gave myself a few good chances for birdies and converted.”

Frost’s round began with overcast skies until he made a birdie on the par-4 16th. That putt appeared to be moving rather quickly until it managed to find the cup.

The back-nine started with the heaviest wind gusts all week which affected Frost though he still scored well regardless.

“It was just gusty, and you almost want to wait for the gust to die down, but it doesn’t,” said Frost. “You just got to hit solid shots. Luckily, I was in a sort of a position where I could be aggressive.”

When Frost did miss on the second nine, he put himself in good position. A prime example was the par-5 sixth hole when he blocked his second shot well to the right and in the rough. The miss gave him plenty of green to work with and he birdied what has ranked the easiest hole at Scioto Country Club for all three rounds.

As other golfers behind him became victims of the wind, Frost crept closer to the leaderboard and he currently finds himself tied for sixth place at 2-over-par.

“I think it will be in position for a good finish tomorrow, compared to where I was at plus-4,” Frost said. “It’s just nice to be in contention. It puts you at ease with the pressure, and just follow through and try and convert the shots when you’re over the golf ball.”

Shot of the day

Bernhard Langer had a roller coaster round which was kept to eight pars but a third round of 1-under-par 69. A key to the under par round was a holed gap wedge from 77 yards out on the 11th hole.

“That was a beautiful 3 wood off the tee and had a three-quarter lob wedge and I was just about to say when it was in the air, just about to say to my caddie, that looks pretty good, and heard it hit the flag and straight into the hole,” he said.

37th U.S. Senior Open leaderboard

1. Miguel Angel Jimenez -3

2. Gene Sauers -2

T3. Ian Woosnam +1

T3. Loren Roberts +1

T3. Billy Mayfair +1

T6. David Frost +2

T6. Bernhard Langer +2

T6. Scott Dunlap +2

T6. Joe Durant +2

T6. Michael Allen +2

T6. Glen Day +2

T6. Joey Sindelar +2

The 19th hole:

Two players being under par through three rounds is the fewest at a U.S. Senior Open since 2010. Jimenez’s 3-under-par 207 total is the highest total in relation to par at the major tournament since Isao Aoki in 2001.

With there being split tees in Saturday’s third round, the USGA announced that tickets for the day will also be honored as grounds tickets for Sunday’s final round.

Inclement weather is projected for Sunday morning meaning once again split tees starting at 10:45 a.m. The final group consists of Miguel Angel Jimenez, Gene Sauers and Ian Woosnam at 12:30 p.m.

Kenny Perry withdrew midway through the third round of the U.S. Senior Open with a back injury.

He said it

“It’s hard to make up for a 3 over round the first day. That was just the first seven holes was not me. But it is what it is, and you’ve got to make the best of it. Again, today, I would have loved to finish with two or three stronger. I had it to 3 under and made two more bogeys. I couldn’t make any more birdies. So every day, I left two or three out there, which hurts in the end. They all add up. I’m still not very, very far behind. So if I play a flawless round tomorrow, I might still have a chance.” – Bernhard Langer

So you were the only guys who didn’t get in before the rain. Do you feel pretty special?
GENE SAUERS: Yeah, that rain came down pretty hard. It came down in sheets there when I had to hit my shot. Joey got lucky. He got a little break there. Yeah, I told my caddie, I said on the 17 — walking down 17, I said, I think we’re going to miss the rain, and I shouldn’t have said anything.

Q.Shouldn’t have said that. I know you got 18 holes tomorrow, but just talk about the last three holes you played today. It was a great par on 18, like you just said. Those last three holes really are a difference maker for you going into Sunday.
GENE SAUERS: Exactly. I go home kind of happy tonight instead of frowning. Hopefully, it just builds my confidence up and carry it on into tomorrow.

It’s anybody’s game now, right?
BILLY MAYFAIR: Absolutely. We’ll see what the weather does tonight. We’ll keep an eye on that. I’m sure the golf course might be a little bit different tomorrow than it was today, that’s for sure.

You’re known for enjoying yourself. Is that a fair estimation, a fair way to look at you? You just enjoy life?
MIGUEL JIMENEZ: Of course. Of course you have to enjoy yourself, and I enjoy myself. You look at my office, no? It’s a great life, no? That’s what I want to do in my life is play golf. I will do what I want to do in my life for a living, and golf is not my job. It’s also my hobby. Of course, when I finish here, I’m going to have a big fat cigar with a nice glass of wine and enjoy my wife and my family and my people who are here, you know.

Billy Mayfair on completing his round while contending with an unforecasted pop-up shower: “Hi, guys. Nice to have the sun out now. My pants are still wet, but I survived.”

Author: Zac Weiss

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