Hope pays off for optimistic Leonard

Former British Open champ goes from also-ran to winner in a week

Posted: Monday, January 31, 2005

 

  Justin Leonard hits from the bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the Bob Hope Classic at the PGA West course in La Quinta, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2005. Leonard won the tournament shooting a 5-under par 67 round on Sunday, for an overall score of 28-under par. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Justin Leonard hits from the bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the Bob Hope Classic at the PGA West course in La Quinta, Calif. on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2005. Leonard won the tournament shooting a 5-under par 67 round on Sunday, for an overall score of 28-under par.

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

LA QUINTA, Calif. — Justin Leonard shot a 5-under 67 Sunday to overtake the faltering Joe Ogilvie and win the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

Leonard finished the 90-hole tournament at 28-under 332, three shots in front of Ogilvie and Tim Clark of South Africa.

Ogilvie, still winless in his six years on the tour, had a closing 73. Clark shot 69.

Coming off his worst year since joining the tour full-time in 1995, former British Open champion Leonard rolled in six birdie putts and had just one bogey in the final round at PGA West's Palmer Course.

He began the day three shots behind the front-running Ogilvie, who had been tied for the lead or alone at the top since the opening round of the five-day event.

Leonard missed the cut last week at Torrey Pines, but the way he finished it may have been an omen. Able to play only 17 holes of his second round Friday because of fog, he was 2 over.

Unlike a half-dozen other players who also weren't going to make the cut and withdrew, Leonard showed up Saturday morning to finish his round — by playing one hole.

He birdied the par 5 and said that he finished because he felt it was the right thing to do, adding, ''Plus, look at all the momentum I gave myself for next week.''

Leonard finished in the top 10 in just three tournaments last year and dropped to 42nd on the earnings list with $1.5 million. He failed to win a title for only the second time since 1996, and didn't qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time since turning pro.

Eight shots back after the third day of the Hope, he made up ground with a fourth-round 64, then caught Ogilvie shortly after the final round began.

Leonard started the day by sinking a pair of birdies that drew him into a tie when Ogilvie started with a bogey and a par. Ogilvie then bogeyed No. 3 and Leonard's par put him alone at the top, where he stayed.

Leonard made the turn with a 3-under 33, and opened a four-shot lead over both Ogilvie and Clark with a birdie at No. 10. Not seriously threatened after another birdie at No. 11, Leonard turned conservative and parred the final eight holes.

Ogilvie and Clark both birdied No. 18, while Leonard tapped in for par after just missing a 10-footer.

Peter Lonard of Australia, in second place two shots behind Ogilvie to start the day, had putting problems and struggled to a 72, leaving him tied for fourth at 24 under with Loren Roberts, who has a 69.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who also won the title in 2002, shot himself out of contention when he hit into the water on the par-4 No. 13 and took a double bogey. His 71 left him tied for 12th at 21 under.

Craig Stadler who won the Hope in 1980 for his first PGA win, shot a closing 69 to finish tied for 14th at 340.

DIVOTS: Hope died in the summer of 2003, but his stamp is still on the tournament that began in 1960. One of his favorite observations about the game is posted on a sign: ''If you think golf is relaxing, you're not playing it right.'' ... The win was Leonard's ninth career title and first since he won the 2003 Honda Classic. The victory ended a string of three Hope wins in a row by lefties — Mickelson in 2002 and 2004, and Mike Weir in 2003. Weir missed the cut this year.



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