On a punishing day at Muirfield—the course with a reputation as the fairest links of them all—leave it to a 49-year-old Spaniard who enjoys the simple pleasures in life to make such a demanding test at the British Open seem like just another round of golf.
There was calamity all around him Friday.
Zach Johnson lost the lead with a three-putt from 10 feet. Brandt Snedeker took four putts from 15 feet. Tiger Woods played well enough to be only one shot behind and rarely smiled.
Jimenez, with his frizzy red hair bunched into a ponytail, made his way around Muirfield with only two bogeys for an even-par 71 that gave him a one-shot lead over Woods, Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson going into the weekend. Trying to become the oldest major winner, Jimenez was at 3-under 139.
For most players, it was tough to enjoy anything about a course that brought the easterly wind for the first time all week, and greens that hit warp speed even after tournament officials hand-watered overnight.
Woods went 12 holes without a birdie, saving his round with a collection of tough pars, and he finished with a 6-iron from 212 yards to 15 feet for a birdie and a 71. Westwood matched the best round of the day with a 68, while Stenson had a 70. Dustin Johnson shot 72.
Zach Johnson had a 75 to drop to 1 under.
SYLVANIA, Ohio (AP)—Paula Creamer shot a 3-under 68 for a share of the Marathon Classic lead with Alison Walshe and Spain's Beatriz Recari at 8-under 134.
Creamer, the tournament winner five years ago when it was called the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, is winless since the 2010 U.S. Women's Open.
Recari, the winner this year in Carlsbad, Calif., had the day's low round with a 65. She climbed from a tie for 19th after opening with a 69. Walshe had a 69.
Jacqui Concolino was another shot back after a 68. The world's top-ranked pro, Inbee Park, and top-ranked amateur, Lydia Ko, were 6 under along with Chie Arimura.
Park shot 69. She has six wins this season, including the first three major championships. Ko had a 67. The 16-year-old South Korean-born New Zealander won the Canadian Women's Open last year at 15 to become the youngest LPGA Tour champion. Arimura also shot 67.
SANDERSON FARMS CHAMPIONSHIP
MADISON, Miss. (AP)—Vaughn Taylor, Fabian Gomez, Paul Stankowski, Troy Matteson and Kyle Reifers and Daniel Summerhays shared the lead in the Sanderson Farms Championship when second-round play was suspended because of darkness in the rain-plagued event.
Gomez had an 8 under 64 in his second round, playing 29 total holes in the stifling Mississippi heat after his first round was delayed Thursday. Taylor and Matteson shot 67, Stankowski finished with a 68 and Reifers had a 69. Summerhays, the first-round leader Thursday after a 63, completed only eight holes in the second.
Play was delayed for the second straight day at Annandale Golf Club because of lightning close to the course. The afternoon session was unable to finish after a delay that lasted more than two hours.
The 43-year-old Stankowski is the most unlikely name among the leaders. The veteran is playing in his first PGA Tour event of the season and hasn't won since 1997.
U.S. AMATEUR PUBLIC LINKS
LORTON, Va. (AP)—California junior Michael Kim and Oklahoma State sophomore Jordan Niebrugge each won two matches in hot and humid conditions at Laurel Hill to advance to U.S. Amateur Public Links final.
The 20-year-old Kim, from Del Mar, Calif., beat Robby Shelton IV of Wilmer, Ala., 1 up in the morning quarterfinals, and topped Eric Sugimoto of San Diego 4 and 3 in the afternoon semifinals.
Kim was the low amateur in the U.S. Open at Merion after winning the Jack Nicklaus and Fred Haskins awards as the college player of the year. He also will play in the Walker Cup.
The 19-year-old Niebrugge, from Mequon, Wis., edged 16-year-old Dou Zecheng of China 1 up in the quarterfinals, and beat James Erkenbeck of San Diego 3 and 2 in the semifinals.
The tournament is limited to players who don't hold privileges at any course that doesn't extend playing privileges to the general public. The winner traditionally receives a spot in the Masters, if still an amateur.
THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP)—Zachary Olsen shot a 4-under 68 to take a two-stroke lead after the third round of the 107th Southern Amateur.
Olsen, the 19-year-old Cordova, Tenn., player who will be a freshman at Oklahoma State, had an 11-under 205 total on the Nicklaus Course at The Club at Carlton Woods. Georgia senior Joey Garber was second after a 67.
The winner will receive a spot next year in the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational.
AMERICAN CENTURY CHAMPIONSHIP
STATELINE, Nev. (AP)—Former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien had an eagle and three birdies Friday to take a two-point lead after the first round of the American Century Championship.
Rypien finished with 27 points at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course under the modified Stableford scoring system that awards graduated points for pars or better.
Actor Lucas Black was second with 25 points, followed by former NFL quarterback Chris Chandler with 24. Former Denver quarterback John Elway, Golden State guard Steph Curry and former NHL player Jeremy Roenick were tied for fourth place with 22 points.