The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 12, 2014

Mechanic gives himself belated 50th birthday gift

— UGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Miguel Angel Jimenez gave himself a belated 50th birthday gift: one of the best rounds ever for a senior golfer at Augusta National.

The Spaniard known as "The Mechanic" carved up the course on a picturesque Saturday at the Masters, shooting a 6-under 66 for the best round of the tournament thus far.

Jimenez finished up with a par at the 18th about the time leader Bubba Watson was teeing off at the adjacent first hole, having sliced a 10-shot deficit to just four by taking advantage of a warm day with barely a hint of the swirling breezes that can make Augusta so treacherous.

"I played very solid all day long," Jimenez said. "A beautiful day here."

Jimenez turned 50 in January and will make his debut on the Champions Tour at an event in suburban Atlanta next weekend.

In the meantime, he claimed a spot in the Masters record book, matching the lowest score ever by a player 50 and older. Ben Hogan was 54 when he shot 66 during the third round of the 1967 tournament, and Fred Couples matched it at age 50 during the opening round in 2010.

"Just because you are 50 does not mean you cannot play golf," said Jimenez, one of six 50-and-older golfers to make the Masters cut. "I'm still flexible. I hit the ball longer than ever."

Jimenez has never won a major championship but he's been a perennial contender in the biggest events, capturing a new generation of fans with his unique stretching routine before each round and his fondness for cigars and wine.

If he can put together another stellar round on Sunday, he sees no reason why he can't become the oldest major champion in golf history.

"The main thing is probably that I like what I am doing in my life," Jimenez said. "I enjoy competing."

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