Jimenez leads after exciting first round of Regions Tradition

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – While the weather was having typical Alabama weather mood swings on Thursday, May 17, during the first round of the Regions Tradition at Greystone Golf and Country Club, it created the perfect conditions for low scoring in the PGA Tour Champions first major championship of the season.

Of the 77 players in the field, 45 of them were under par during the opening round of the tournament, but none went lower than Miguel Angel Jimenez.

The Spaniard went out and shot an 8-under par 64 to take a two-stroke lead into the second round of the major championship.

His first round was jump started when he birdied the first four holes in a row, including the very difficult par-4 third hole.

Jimenez then went on to par three in a row before finishing the front nine with two more birdies on eight and nine to go out in 6-under 30.

He was then able to start the back nine with a par and a birdie to move to 7-under just before the rain delay halted play around 1 p.m.

The short one-hour delay didn’t seem to affect Jimenez, however, as he came out and birdied the par-5 13th hole as soon as the delay came to an end. He then went on to par out the remaining five holes to shoot his 8-under round. Those last five holes featured pars on two par fives that could have allowed his day to be even better.

Nonetheless, he will take a two-shot lead into the second round of the tournament on Friday, May 18, but a crowded leaderboard is right on Jimenez’s heels waiting for a chance to strike.

Four players sit two shots back at 6-under, including Wes Short Jr., who shared the lead for a lot of the day, Jerry Kelly, Joe Durant and Gene Sauers.

Just one more shot behind that is a strong group at 5-under led by Steve Stricker and includes Alabama’s own Jerry Pate as well as Scott Parel and Scott McCarron.

Of the eight golfers within three shots of the lead, six of them are currently in the top 13 of the Charles Schwab Cup Money List for the 2018 season, making it a strong and competitive leaderboard.

And the drop off doesn’t get any worse from 5-under to 4-under as eight guys sit four shots off the lead at 4-under par heading into the second round, including Rocco Mediate, Tom Byrum, Jeff Maggert, Stephen Ames, Tom Lehman, Kenny Perry, Fran Quin and Tommy Tolles.

Two-time defending champion Bernhard Langer finished the day with a 2-under par 70 and sits just six shots off the lead. Last year, before going on to win, he shot just one shot better and was four shots off the lead, but he went on to fire rounds of 66 and 64 on the weekend to pull from behind, meaning he has plenty of time to make a move.

Another popular name in Vijay Singh joined Langer at 2-under for the first round of play.

John Daly finished the first round at 1-under after battling through a right knee injury for the duration of his round. Colin Montgomerie also shot 1-under par for his round.

If you are planning to take Friday off to attend the event, the second round will start at 7:45 a.m. off both No. 1 and No. 10 tees to make up for the threat of rain throughout the middle part of the day.

The last tee time of the day should get started at 9:45 a.m., which should complete play by close to 2 p.m. barring any weather delays.