Trahan wins Bob Hope as Leonard stumbles
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2008 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic | Round Five | 21 Jan 2008
D.J Trahan has today won his second USPGA Tour title, his final round of 65 overcoming a four shot deficit as he started the final round to beat the man who looked the winner for so much of the final 36 holes, Justin Leonard.
Third round leader, Leonard, appeared to have the title in his safe keeping when he moved to 26 under par and retained a three shot lead with nine holes to play at the Classic Club, the host venue for this week’s event.
Almost inexplicably however, given the manner in which Leonard had played over the first 81 holes, the Texan began to struggle on the turn for home. A bogey at the 10th to Trahan’s birdie reduced the margin to just one and when Leonard added another bogey at the 11th the two leading contenders were all tied up at 24 under.
Trahan went ahead at the 14th with yet another birdie and that would remain the case until the pair who, were playing together with Robert Gamez, reached the final hole. Trahan, courtesy of his birdie at the 14th, was first to hit and found the fairway while Leonard blew his one last chance by finding the water with his tee shot. Trahan played the hole conservatively from there but still made birdie to Leonard’s bogey and the difference was three.
Trahan is into his fourth full season on the USPGA Tour and won the Southern Farm Bureau Classic in 2006. The 27 year old was one of the world’s leading amateurs before turning professional in 2003 after a very successful collegiate career at Clemson University.
Leonard will be disappointed at having surrendered such a significant lead but the positive turnaround in the Texan’s game continues.
“I played pretty good the first eight holes,” said Leonard later. “I didn’t hit a very good third shot into 9 and didn’t really have a putt at it there. Then bogeying 10, 11 from the fairway, they’re two difficult holes, but to make bogey there at those two holes was obviously a huge difference in the outcome. Then I never really gave myself a chance the last four holes which was disappointing.”
Gamez appeared a possible challenger on day five with two early birdies but fell apart in the middle of his round dropping five shots in four holes at that stage and eventually finished 16th.
Anthony Kim birdied three of his last four holes to finish in a share of third with the improving Kenny Perry although Perry’s weak finish today cost him a chance of at least a share of second place with Leonard.
The Australian challenge was impressive in terms of both quality and quality.
Steve Elkington had five rounds in the 60’s and finished in a share of 5th, his equal best result in the last two years on the PGA Tour. Brett Rumford made a very impressive debut as card holder on the PGA Tour when 8th, Robert Allenby staged a weekend rally for 12th, John Senden was 22nd, Matt Jones in another solid week was 29th, Mathew Goggin was 35th and Rod Pampling was 44th.
The PGA Tour now heads west across California to San Diego for this week’s Buick Invitational, which will see the 2008 debuts of both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on a golf course at Torrey Pines, which will host the US Open in five months time.