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Friday, 19 March 2010

 A brilliant birdie three on the notorious 18th at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa's Blue Monster Course took Miguel Angel Jiménez into a share of the lead on an exemplary first day for the European Tour at the WGC – CA Championship.

Of the top 18 players on a quite dazzling leaderboard that includes World Numbers One and Two Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Jiménez joined 2006 US Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy at the summit after the pair tamed the Blue Monster with opening scores of seven under par 65.

That was good enough to lead America’s Stewart Cink by a single stroke, with Woods and Mickelson joined by The European Tour triumvirate of Denmark’s Anders Hansen and the Australian pair of Nick O’Hern and Adam Scott on five under.

Further examination of the leaderboard leads to more European Tour positivity, with Luke Donald, Ross Fisher, Grégory Havret, Robert Karlsson, Martin Kaymer and Jeev Milkha Singh among the ten men on four under.

Given a special welcome and support from the Hispanic crowds that dominate the population of Miami, Jiménez – one of the game’s true characters – revelled in the electric atmosphere at the Doral Golf & Spa Resort.

The 44 year old from Malaga, who won the second event of the 2008 European Tour season at the UBS Hong Kong Open, certainly gave the crowd something to cheer with a wonderful birdie-birdie finish to move into a share of the lead with Ogilvy.

“I played very well today and made a few important birdie putts from four or five feet which is always going to help you make a score,” said Jiménez. “And I loved the crowd here – they were all cheering for me in Spanish and it made me feel comfortable.

“I have been the hitting the ball well – the score might not have been what I was expecting today but when you are hitting it well and you hole the putts then you will be up there.

“Tomorrow will be a different golf course – today was a day to enjoy yourself and I did that.”

Woods might well have been within one of Jiménez and Ogilvy but for a bogey on the 18th, caused by an uncharacteristic three putt.  It is, however, no surprise to see the defending champion hovering with intent once again.

“I really didn’t do anything all that special today – I just kind of hung in there and took care of the par fives and made a couple of birdies here and there,” said Woods rather ominously.

“I made a couple of mistakes out there, but overall I feel like I wasn’t hitting the ball that poorly. I was hitting the ball in the right spots, I just didn’t make any putts until the 15th, 16th. They were the only putts I made all day.”

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