Miguel Angel Jiménez goes into the final round of the WGC – American Express Championship with a Spanish treble in his sights after moving into a share of the lead with American Chris Perry at Valderrama.
Jiménez has already won twice in his native Andalucia having captured the Turespana Masters – Open Andalucia in March and then the Volvo Masters at Montecastillo last week. Now, after a third round of 69, two under par, a unique third title in the region is within his grasp.
The 35-year-old from Malaga fired four birdies in a front nine of 33 and came to the last with a one shot lead but three putted the final green to leave the championship wide open.
I"ts been a long time since I led the tournament going into the final round but I feel comfortable. I’ll play my own game and that’s it. There are a lot of very, very good players here but I don’t fear anybody. “
Perry, leader at the halfway stage, shot a one over 72, to maintain his position at the top of the leaderboard.
“Nobody did much of anything. It wasn't as difficult a wind as Thursday but it swirled more which made club selection difficult. I knew if I could just get it in the fairway and get around the greens I would have a shot going into the final day.
"There are a lot of great players on the leaderboard. If I play like I did today I wont win – I really need to have a quality round tomorrow.”
Among the great players poised to mount a challenge is the World Number One Tiger Woods who birdied the last two holes for a round of 70, one under, to move within a shot of the lead on three under par. Woods has won six of his last seven events including the US PGA Championship, the WGC – NEC Invitational and last week’s Tour Championship on the US Tour.
“The fact that I have been on a roll recently helps me out in that I know I can do it. I’ve been doing it and I take some confidence in that. I need to go out there tomorrow and continue to play smart golf. This golf course is not lending itself to playing a lot of low scores.”
Three Open Champions – Nick Price, Justin Leonard and Tom Lehman - are also tied on three under par and a shot off the pace along with Hal Sutton, winner of the Bell Canadian Open in September and a member of the winning US Ryder Cup team.
Masters Champion José Maria Olazábal and Lee Westwood, who needs to win to have a chance of toppling Colin Montgomerie at the top of the Volvo Order of Merit, are a further shot back, just two shots off the pace. Indeed 24 players are within five shots of the leaders including Sergio Garcia, who also needs to win to have a chance of capturing the Volvo Order of Merit, on one under par, Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain Mark James on level par and Montgomerie one over par.