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Jimenez Tops Bjorn in Thailand

04 Johnnie Walker ClassicBANGKOK, Thailand -- Miguel Angel Jimenez carded a 4-under 68 Sunday to fend off Thomas Bjorn and win the Johnnie Walker Classic by two strokes. Jimenez completed the event at 17-under-par 271.
'This is a great golf course and I played very well all through the week, especially through the final three rounds,' said Jimenez, whose last crown came at the 2003 Turespana Mallorca Classic. 'I had good rhythm this week. I did not try to force anything.'
Bjorn closed with a 1-under 71 to finish in a tie for second place at 15-under-par 273. He was joined there by Jyoti Randhawa, who fired an 8-under 64 in the final round.
Jimenez trailed Bjorn throughout most of the first three rounds, but briefly held the lead during the third round. The Spaniard birdied the opening hole Sunday from within five feet to join Bjorn atop the leaderboard at 14 under.
Bjorn nearly chipped in for birdie at the next, but settled for a par. He regained the lead with a short birdie putt at the fourth after Jimenez' birdie try slid by the right edge. Jimenez came back with a birdie at the sixth to create another tie for first at minus-15.
The duo both birdied the par-5 seventh. Jimenez then made it three straight as he chipped in for birdie at No. 8 to grab the lead for the first time since the 14th hole of the third round. His lead grew to two shots when Bjorn bogeyed the ninth at Alpine Golf and Country Club.
Jimenez remained two shots ahead as the pair both dropped shots at the 10th. Bjorn ran home an eight-footer for birdie at the next to get within one shot. Jimenez stumbled to a three-putt bogey on the 12th to create a tie for the lead at 16 under.
Bjorn then grabbed his final lead of the tournament at minus-17. He dropped his second shot within four feet of the cup at the 13th for birdie. It was all downhill from there though.
The Dane made a mess of the par-5 14th. His drive went well right and into water. Then his third shot missed the green long and well right. He managed to pitch on and two-putt for bogey to drop to 16 under.
Meanwhile, Jimenez knocked his second shot at No. 14 to the back edge and got down in two for birdie and a one-stroke lead. He left a birdie try on the lip at the next.
The par-4 16th was another turning point. Jimenez flew his second shot over the green and was unable to get up-and-down for birdie.
He dropped back to 16 under and a share of the lead. Bjorn could not take advantage however. He two-putted for par at the same hole, then again lost his drive well right and into water on No. 17. Meanwhile, Jimenez pitched his third shot some 25 feet from the cup at the 17th.
He ran home that birdie try to get back to 17 under. Bjorn's poor tee ball led to another bogey and he dropped two shots back. Both men closed with pars at the last as Jimenez earned his eighth European Tour crown.
'I three putted the par-3 12th,' Jimenez said. 'Then on 16, I didn't hit a bad shot just a little long. I didn't hole a good putt all day until the 17th and that was important because Bjorn opened the door twice when he went into the water.'
Jimenez, who went 1-2-2 in his lone Ryder Cup appearance in 1999, hopes to play his way onto the 2004 team.
'The more important thing right now is to be happy with winning the Johnnie Walker Classic,' said Jimenez. 'Next week, I'll be happy with my family at home. The Ryder Cup will be important in September. It's one of my goals to get on the team and help Europe defend the cup against the United States.'
Bjorn can only blame himself for this loss. He hit less than half the fairways during the event (27-of-56) and averaged 28 putts-per-round.
'Over the last 16 months I've let a few tournaments slip through my hands,' said Bjorn. 'I am disappointed, and I am getting good at disappointment at the moment. The tournament was there to be won today.'
Randhawa roared into contention with three birdies and an eagle on the front nine to get to 12 under. He bogeyed the 11th, but came back to birdie No. 14. He then holed out from the fairway for eagle on 16 and birdied the 17th to share second place.
Hometown favorite Boonchu Ruangkit posted a 7-under 65 Sunday to move into a tie for fourth place at 14-under-par 274. He was joined there by 2003 PGA Championship winner Shaun Micheel (67), Raphael Jacquelin (68), Simon Yates (70), David Smail (69) and another Thai golfer, Thongchai Jaidee (68).
Ernie Els, the 2003 champion, struggled early on Sunday, but closed with five straight birdies to end the event at 13-under-par 275 after a closing 69. He was joined at minus-13 by Scott Gardiner and Ian Poulter.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Johnnie Walker Classic

  • Full Coverage - Johnnie Walker Classic