Drama Ensues in 3-Man Playoff at Hualalai

January 19, 2020, 8:53 AM HST (Updated January 19, 2020, 8:54 AM)
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Four Seasons Hualalai / Image: James Grenz

The Big Island was drama central in the golfing world Saturday, as three highly recognizable names went head-to-head-to-head in a three-man, sudden-death playoff for the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

Miguel Ángel Jiménez birdied the second playoff hole to defeat World Golf Hall of Fame members Ernie Els and Fred Couples en route to earning his second career victory at the PGA TOUR Champions season-opening event, held every year at the Four Seasons Hualalai.

The 56-year-old Spaniard previously won the event in 2015, and becomes the eighth player all time to win it more than once.

“(I’ve) played well every year here, and it’s nice to have a second (victory),” said Jiménez, adding he wasn’t nervous squaring off against two other golf legends. “No, no, no nerves, no nerves. … You feel the tense, but no nerves.”

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All three golfers found themselves at -14 through the 54-hole event, 2 shots better than the next closest challengers. While Jiménez posted a 67 in the final round to qualify for the playoff, Els needed to produce back-to-back scores of 65 on Friday and Saturday to earn his place in the playoff in his debut on the PGA TOUR Champions.

“Yeah, disappointing obviously,” Els said of coming up just short in his first shot at a Mitsubishi Electric Championship. “I would have loved to got it through, but I had a couple of chances, didn’t quite get the right speed or the right line (on my putts), but all good. Congrats to Miguel.”

Couples was eliminated from the playoff after missing a 4-foot par putt on the first extra hole. The runner-up effort marked his fourth all-time at Hualalai dating back to his PGA TOUR Champions debut in 2010, when he fell one shot shy of winner Tom Watson. He is the highest-ranked player on the tournament’s all-time money list without a victory, sitting in fourth with $1,237,500 in winnings.

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