Leonard's winning experience sees him though
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2005 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic | Wrap | 31 Jan 2005
Justin Leonard today won his 9th USPGA Tour event, his first west of Texas and his first in nearly two years with victory at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic by three from Tim Clark and Joe Ogilvie. Three of the four players who finished closest to Leonard were non-winners on the USPGA Tour, the end result perhaps reflecting Leonard’s capacity and experience to finish the job off.
Leonard missed the cut last week at the Buick Invitational but was quickly into stride with his opening 66 at Bermuda Dunes this week. He stayed in touch until his fourth round 64 saw him move into a challenging position and when he opened with three birdies in his first four holes today he had laid claim to the title. Birdies at the 10th and 11th saw him reach 28 under and it may well have been his birdie at the 10th that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. From 210 yards he finished 12 feet from the hole and when he had made that he was at 27 under and had broken clear of Ogilvie.
Leonard birdied the next to reach 28 under and created several further chances over the closing holes. Although he was unable to convert them he had already established the cushion and to a great extent he cruised to the line.
For much of the day second place developed into a battle between last week’s South African Open winner, Tim Clark, Joe Ogilvie and Peter Lonard who came and went on a couple of occasions. Lonard started with three shaky bogeys but bounced back with six birdies and two bogeys to finish even for the day and at 24 under in a share of fourth with Loren Roberts. For the second week in succession Lonard has let slip a winning opportunity but it may just be that this highlights he is closing in on his first win on the USPGA Tour.
Fourth round leader Joe Ogilvie, like Lonard, started shakily with two early bogeys but seemed to be settling down until a double bogey at the 10th after driving it in the water cost him any chance of victory. He bounced back with a birdie at the 11th and a finishing birdie at the last to join Tim Clark in second place but to have led for so long in this event, there are likely mixed emotions for Ogilvie at the completion of the tournament. He is, however, destined to win before too long on the US PGA Tour.
Tim Clark’s performance was noteworthy so soon after his impressive win at the Durban Golf Club last Sunday. The share of second place here represents his best finish on the PGA Tour behind his third place finish at the USPGA Championship in 2003. He is on an absolute roll at present and like Ogilvie and Lonard, may not be too far away from his first USPGA Tour win.
John Senden recorded his best ever finish on the USPGA Tour when he birdied four of the last five holes to finish at 23 under and in a share of 6th place. Senden’s previous best on the USPGA Tour had been 9th (twice) and this effort reflects a more aggressive on course approach that his coach Ian Triggs has been instilling in him. He experimented with the new approach at the events in Australia late last year and it may just be what the Queenslander needs to go to the next level. He has proven to be a good bread and butter player but in order to go another step and become a winner, he needs to change something and perhaps this is what is.
Of the other Australians in the event only Aaron Baddeley (61st) and Geoff Ogilvy (75th) made the cut.
The PGA Tour now heads to Phoenix for the FBR Open. Lonard heads back to Australia for the Heineken Classic while Senden will head to Phoenix.