Miguel Angel Jimenez storms to major victory at Regions Tradition

BIRMINGHAM, AL - MAY 20: Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain poses with the trophy and winners green bike after the Regions Tradition at Greystone Golf & Country Club on May 20, 2018 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Miguel Angel Jimenez storms to major victory at Regions Tradition

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Miguel Angel Jimenez storms to major victory at Regions Tradition

One picturesque 5-wood into the 18th green was all Miguel Angel Jimenez needed to become a major champion.

The 54-year-old Spaniard held a two-shot lead over Steve Stricker entering the last hole of the Regions Tradition. He two-putted for birdie at the par-5 finisher to secure the win at Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.

Jimenez shot 19-under 269 for the week and finished three shots ahead of the field, with Stricker, Gene Sauers and Joe Durant sharing runner-up honors at 16 under.

Two-time Masters champion and fellow countryman Jose Maria Olazabal was also in the field this week and congratulated Jimenez after it was all over.

“We’re going to have a big party,” Jimenez said. “Instead of (pouring) out the champagne, we’re going to put in the champagne.”

The cigar-smoking, aviator shades-wearing, fine wine-drinking Jimenez holds a reputation as golf’s most interesting man thanks to his extracurricular activities and overall carpe diem vibe. True to form, he dramatically holstered his putter in swashbuckling fashion and clung to a bottle of Korbel champagne moments after his first career major victory.

Jimenez now has won once in each of his first five seasons on the Champions Tour, including back-to-back Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic titles in 2016-17. He still paces the fairway with that easy, confident stride of a man who knows exactly who he is and where he’s going. And he remains a strong competitor with five top-10 finishes in nine starts this season, presumably thanks in part to a well-documented stretching routine best described as hot yoga meets dubstep.

A 21-time winner on the European Tour and four-time Ryder Cup participant, Jimenez holds five PGA Tour Champions victories after capturing the first senior major of the year. He entered the final round with a three-shot lead and maintained it with a 2-under 70, bouncing back from an opening bogey at the par-4 first. He finished the day with five birdies and three bogeys and dashed Stricker’s comeback hopes with his approach shot into the center of the 18th green, essentially erasing any chance of a playoff.

Stricker was just one shot back with two holes to play, but a bogey at the par-3 17th provided Jimenez with a comfortable two-shot cushion. The 51-year-old Stricker has two senior titles this year after captaining the U.S. Presidents Cup team to a blowout victory last fall.

“A little disappointing, but I fought, hung in there and gave myself a chance at the end,” Stricker said. “He made some good putts and he made a birdie at 16 when he had to and hit a really good iron shot in there at 17 and took care of business at 18. So he played well down the stretch and I didn’t.”

Reigning PGA Tour Champions Player of the Year Bernhard Langer shot 5-under 67 in the final round to finish 11th. A three-time major winner in 2017, Langer picked up his first win of the season two weeks ago at the Insperity Invitational. Gwk

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