It was another picture-perfect day at the American Family Insurance Championship on Saturday, highlighted by sunshine, hot weather and a welcomed June breeze.
Malaga, Spain native Miguel Angel Jimenez entered the day with the lead after a stellar first-round 65. Joining him on the first tee was 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and Madison, Wisconsin native Jerry Kelly, the three following the second-to-last trio of Fred Couples, Retief Goosen and Ken Tanigawa.
Steady play defined Angel Jimenez’s day, two front-nine birdies propelling him to nine-under and back-to-back birdies late on the back nine pushing him to -10 and the solo lead.
“Not as good a score as yesterday,” Jimenez said, cigar in hand. “Still hitting good, hitting some good shots there, a couple up-and-downs…But the game is solid, 3 under par I think is a fair result, maybe a couple more birdies, but that’s golf.”
Consistency was also the story for defending champion Kelly, as he played his first 35 holes of the tournament bogey-free and sat at -10 for much of today’s back nine. Or, at least, it was the story until the 18th hole.
The Madison native found a bunker off the tee, hit the lip of the bunker with his second shot, sent his third shot off the back of the green, finally found the green with his fourth shot and finished with a two-putt for double bogey. The 6 on the par-4 18th sent the 54-year-old back to -8, tied for third place entering Sunday.
“I didn’t hit it great again today. I was making the most of it again, just not making any big mistakes, and then I made a big mistake,” Kelly said. “It was a bummer to finish on, but I’m the same amount of shots back that I was yesterday. I know it’s there. But boy, I would have liked to be in the last group putting pressure on, but second-last group putting pressure on is okay.”
Then there’s Fred Couples, former World No. 1 and 1992 Masters champion. The 61-year-old started slow with a front-nine 35, but then took advantage of a scorable final stretch to close with a five-under 67.
He sits in solo second and will join Angel Jimenez in tomorrow’s final group.
“I felt like I hit the ball pretty well. I’m not going to say I wasn’t getting anything out of my round, because it was blowing in the first seven, eight holes,” the smooth-hitting Couples said. “Then the back nine, you know, I just — I just started to hit it a little bit better, a little closer to the hole and made some putts.”
The tournament leaderboard is loaded at the top heading into Sunday’s action. Miguel Jimenez leads the way at -10, Fred Couples sits in solo second at -9, Retief Goosen, Jerry Kelly and Jim Furyk sit T-3 at -8 and three more names sit at -7, just three shots back.
Miguel Angel Jimenez still on the putting green, cigar in hand, nearly an hour after finishing up 18.