Miguel Angel Jimenez’s name is atop the final leaderboard…
The 56-year-oldSpanish professional golfer made a 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff Saturday with senior newcomer Ernie Els to win the PGA Tour Champions‘ season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.
Fred Couples dropped out on the first extra trip down the par-4 18th at windy Hualalai, missing a short par putt.
Jimenez, paired with Couples in the second-to-last group, birdied Nos. 13-15 in a 5-under 67 to match Els and Couples at 14-under 202.
“I said to my caddie, ‘The winning score is going to be 15-under par, and we need to hurry up and make birdie,” said Jimenez. “Make three birdies in a row, 14-under par, and then here we are.”
Jimenez has nine victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning at Hualalai in 2015. He has won in all seven of his senior seasons.
“Played well every year here, and it’s nice to have a second win,” Jimenez said.
Els made his senior debut on Thursday with an even-par 72 to fall eight strokes behind leaders Jimenez and Bernhard Langer, then rallied with consecutive 65s. The four-time major winner from South Africa had an eagle and five birdies, chipping in on the par-4 16th for his final birdie.
“Disappointing, obviously,” Els said. “I would have loved to got it through, but I had a couple of chances, didn’t quite get the right speed or the right line, but all good. Congrats to Miguel.”
Couples finished with a 67.
Jimenez and Couples left birdie tries to win on the 18th in regulation just short, and Jimenez had a birdie putt stop on the edge on the first extra hole.
With the wind down, Els’ 12-footer to win on the first playoff hole ran by the right edge. On the second extra hole, his 20-footer went by on the right side before Jimenez holed the winner.
“Not going to be short,” Jimenez said.
Els missed a chance to become the 19th player to win in his tour debut. Jimenez was the last to accomplish the feat, in the 2014 Greater Gwinnett Championship.
“The first day, it was pretty disappointing,” Els said. “I was almost last in the field. Then, I got myself back up and played some really good golf.”