Miguel Angel Jimenez poured a glass of ice water and gave the 3M Championship leaderboard one last look before retreating to the players’ locker room.
From there his plan was a bit more refined.
“A fat cigar, a glass of Rioja wine and a whiskey after that,” Jimenez recited.
If he plays this well again he’ll probably make it a double.
Jimenez on Saturday shot a 9-under-par 63 at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine and is at 14 under par heading into the final round. A 17-foot eagle putt at the par-5 final hole gave Jimenez a one-shot cushion over Kevin Sutherland, who got to 13 under after his putting clinic ended in a 64.
Round 1 leader Glen Day remains in the hunt at 12 under. Colin Montgomerie and Jeff Maggert sit three shots back.
“Good players shoot good scores,” Sutherland said. “It’s fantastic. I’m not surprised by anything.”
That likely includes seeing Jimenez at the top. In his six events on the PGA Tour Champions schedule this season his worst finish is a tie for 11th, in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii. Jimenez has placed in the top four of the other five events.
The Mechanic went to work Saturday with a birdie on the second hole, then rolled in five in a row on Nos. 6 through 10. The run included a dicey 24-foot downhill putt on No. 8 that Jimenez later acted out with his hands placed inches apart and wove as if they were on a roller coaster.
“I’m confident with my game right now,” he said.
That’s a popular tenor in Blaine, as 17 players enter Sunday within six shots of the lead.
It’s a familiar spot for Sutherland, who trailed Kenny Perry by four after 36 holes last summer at the 3M Championship and made a final-round run but wound up second.
Sutherland got himself in contention this time around by holing three birdie putts of 25 feet or longer and a two-putt birdie from more than 80 feet.
“I just kind of stayed in my little bubble and did my own thing,” Sutherland said. “I hope I can make those putts a little shorter. Regardless, you have to make them either way. That’s what I’m going to try to do [Sunday] and that’s what everyone else is going to try and do as well.”
At 9 under, Doug Garwood is among a group of five players aiming to mount a huge Sunday charge. After a 73 on Friday he set the early Saturday pace out of the fourth group.
Garwood ran an eagle putt past on No. 18 that would have tied a 3M record 11-under 61; he settled for 62, a career-best round.
“It all kind of came together,” said Garwood, whose caddie was ill, so he used a TPC Twin Cities youth caddie on Saturday. “I kept making putts. I made so many, I lost track.”
Sutherland is the only player in Champions Tour history to shoot 59 — doing so in 2014 — and thinks that might be what it takes Sunday to win.
Jimenez feels he’s capable.
“I could be 11, 12 under the way I played,” he said.