Miguel Angel Jimenez kept his three-shot overnight advantage after the third round of the European Masters on Saturday despite a momentary lapse of concentration that cost him a stroke.
The leaderboard briefly recorded a four-under 67 and an 18-under 195 total for a four-shot advantage over Ryder Cup teammate Edoardo Molinari of Italy.
However, before he signed his card, Jimenez called an extra shot on himself at the 10th, changing his total to 17-under and his score to 68, three ahead of Molinari and four better than Italian teenager Matteo Manassero and Britain’s Steve Webster.
“I just wasn’t thinking, I accidentally picked my ball up on the 10th because I was near a sprinkler head,” the Spaniard told reporters. “I said to myself: ‘What are you doing, you have to check if you can get relief first?’ I put it back in its correct place. So I gave myself a bogey on the 10th, a one-shot penalty.”
The 46-year-old veteran from Malaga knew it was going to be hard to get anywhere near the scintillating 61 he fired the previous day when lowering the Crans-sur-Sierre course record by a stroke.
“It’s always difficult to follow a score like that because it looks like nothing is happening, but I played very good, especially the first nine holes,” Jimenez said.
A birdie putt on the last at least canceled out his aberration on the 10th. Now Jimenez, on his 22nd successive visit to Crans, where he has finished second twice, is on course to be the first European Tour player to collect three wins this season.
Molinari is bidding for the same feat and European captain Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup wildcard pick is somehow staying on Jimenez’s shoulder despite his mammoth effort last week to win the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland.
His only dropped shot of the week, and his first since the 14th at Gleneagles in the final round, meant he had to settle for a 68 on Saturday.
“The front nine was flawless golf, but on the back nine, especially after making bogey on 13, I felt tired all of a sudden,” the Italian said. “I wasn’t playing well and I was lucky to make some pars.”
SCHEDULE CONFLICTS: While new dates have not been announced, somewhere around this year’s original dates would conflict with other major sports events next year The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will require sacrifices and compromises by all involved, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said yesterday, before predicting the completion of “a beautiful jigsaw puzzle and wonderful Olympic Games.” “Our mission is to organize Games and make [the] dreams of athletes come true,” Bach said, adding that although the Olympics must be held before the end of summer next year, the as-yet-undecided dates would not necessarily be restricted to summer months. Japanese yesterday awoke to the deflating reality that the Olympics they had hoped to host in Tokyo this summer were now probably 16 months away. The IOC
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