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Jiménez on top in Austria

Jiménez on top in Austria

Miguel Ángel Jiménez carded his lowest European Tour round in two years during the second round of the Austrian Open


Miguel Ángel Jiménez will take a two stroke lead into the third round of the Austrian Open after carding a seven under par 65 – his lowest round on the European Tour since the 2018 Italian Open.

"I’m playing very well," said Jiménez.

"It feels great. Four months without competing, it’s nice getting back into a tournament and feeling the tension again. I’m hitting it well and making some putts, not too many bogeys – that’s the key. I enjoyed myself. My irons were working very well.

"I was excited to get back. I miss the competition. I can’t remember the last time I had four months holidays. Coming here from the Dominican Republic and getting started here, it’s a golf course I like very much."

Following a first round 68, the 56-year-old quickly played his way into contention with three birdies in his first four holes at Diamond Country Club. He dropped a shot at the fifth but bounced back immediately with his fourth gain at the sixth.

Jiménez, who spent the past four months in the Dominican Republic, then made one of only a handful of birdies all day at the eighth – a hole he helped completely redesign in 2010 – and made the turn in 31 with a further birdie at the ninth to tie early leader Joost Luiten at the top.

He gained the outright lead a hole later before solidifying his position with further birdies at 11 and 13 to move three strokes clear of Luiten, Marc Warren, Craig Howie and Von Dellingshausen.

A wayward tee shot at the par-three 14th threatened to derail his run of form, but Jiménez held his composure to roll in a lengthy par save prior to a celebration idiosyncratic to the Spaniard. He shared the moment with his son, who is caddying for him this week.

"It’s nice having my son with me. It’s been a few months since I last saw him. He has to go back to the States to finish University. This is our chance to spend time together. He’s with me this week, I’m going to play the first three tournaments in the UK, but he has to go back to the States at that time to study. My official caddie is having a week off, so to spend time like this with my son is nice."

After he was unable to repeat the par-saving feat at either the par five 16th or par four 17th Jiménez momentarily slipped back into a share of the lead with Von Dellingshausen, but he recovered with a sublime approach to just a couple of feet at the last and converted his birdie putt to set the clubhouse target at 11 under par.

Von Dellingshausen dropped a shot of his own over the closing stretch, and now sits two strokes behind Jiménez in a group with Luiten, Warren, Howie and Renato Paratore.

Jiménez, who is making his 705th European Tour appearance this week, could once again break his own record as the oldest winner in Tour history if he were to win in Austria.

He first achieved the feat during Hong Kong Open in 2012 at 48 years old 307 days, successfully defended his title the following year at 49 years, 337 days, and then broke the record for a third time at the 2014 Open de Espana, where he lifted his 21st Tour title at 50 years, 133 days.

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