Jimenez def. newcomer Els in playoff at Hualalai

Golf

KA’UPULEHI-KONA, Hawaii — Miguel Angel Jimenez 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. The 56-year-old Spaniard has nine victories on the 50-and-over tour, also winning at Hualalai in 2015. He has won in all seven his senior seasons.

Els made his senior debut Thursday with an even-par 72 to fall eight strokes behind leaders Jimenez and Bernhard Langer, then rallied with consecutive 65s to post at 14-under 202. 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.”

The 60-year-old 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.

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.”

Retief Goosen shot 64, the best round of the week, to tie for fourth with Wes Short Jr. at 12 under. Short closed with a 67.

Langer, tied for the lead with Els, Couples and Jimenez with two holes left, finished double bogey-bogey for a 71. The 62-year-old German star, a three-time winner at Hualalai, hit long and left into the lava on the par-3 17th.

Second-round leader Woody Austin, playing in the final group with Langer, had a 73 to tie for ninth at 10 under.

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