Golf

Jimenez closes strong to claim MGRC

Miguel Jimenez holds the trophy after winning the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak, Sunday, Apr. 3, 2016.
Miguel Jimenez holds the trophy after winning the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak, Sunday, Apr. 3, 2016. Sun Herald

SAUCIER - Even after playing 36 holes of golf on Saturday, the most interesting man in golf had plenty of gas left in the tank for a rally at Fallen Oak.

After starting the day three strokes behind Scott Dunlap, Miguel Angel Jimenez shot 64 on Sunday to set a record for the lowest final round in the seven-year history of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.

The win is his third on PGA Tour Champions in 10 starts.

While most of his competitors held par or fell back after Saturday's long trudge through two rounds, Jimenez was at his best on a beautiful day in rural Harrison County.

Jimenez, 52, held a celebratory cigar in his left hand as he addressed the media Sunday afternoon.

How did he manage to close so strong after walking a soggy course for two rounds on Saturday?

"A nice bottle of wine last night, a nice steak," a grinning Jimenez said.

Jimenez was the most popular man on the course for much of the tournament and he stayed behind for numerous autographs and pictures after he held high the MGRC trophy.

Jimenez, who earns $240,000 with the win, played a bogey-free round to bring his three-round total to 14-under.

Dunlap also played well with a 69, but bogies on the fifth and 17th holes proved too much to overcome.

"I got run over," said Dunlap, who finished in second place at 12-under after starting the day at 9-under.

The 52-year-old Dunlap was gracious in defeat, giving a tip of the hat to Jimenez.

"He's great," Dunlap said. "For all the guys in the gym with personal trainers, dietitians and all that nonsense, here he is with a ponytail, paunch and smoking a cigar, drinking wine. Last year in Hawaii, he was 38th in the world. I wanted to see the 37 that are better."

Dunlap was within one stroke entering the 17th hole, but he missed a five-foot putt on the 17th to end up with a bogey.

"If you watch the PGA Tour, it's the same thing. You can't do anything wrong," Dunlap said. "You've got to do something really good down the wire to win. You have to seize it.

"I didn't throw it away. On the fifth and sixth, I had 5 and 5. I needed to go 4, 4. I let those guys by me and I was playing catch-up the whole time. Miguel wasn't going to bogey."

A year after Jimenez finished at 1-over and in a tie for 22nd at the MGRC, he had full mastery of the course on Sunday.

Possibly Jimenez's best tee shot of the day came on the 17th when his five-iron drive landed 12 feet from the hole. He easily converted a par for the hole, effectively closing the door on Dunlap.

"It was the perfect shot there," Jimenez said.

Jimenez registered four consecutive birdies and five out of six starting on the 10th hole.

Jimenez drained a putt from the fringe on the 10th to set a torrid pace on the final nine holes.

"The key is the birdie on the 10th hole," Jimenez said. "I was hitting good from there."

Jimenez finished one shot off the tournament record for a single round after Fred Couples shot a 63

Tom Pernice Jr., Jeff Maggert and Jerry Smith all tied for third place at 9-under.

Maggert, the 2014 MGRC champion, flirted with making a run to the top for much of the day, but he rimmed out a pair of putts on the fourth hole for a double-bogey and finished with a 68 on Sunday.

Last year's champion, David Frost, finished at 5-over and tied for 41st.

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