Justin Leonard the quiet achiever
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2003 The Honda Classic | Wrap | 17 Mar 2003
Justin Leonard today won his eighth tournament on the PGA Tour, and in the process, took his career earnings to nearly $US15,000,000. He is now ranked as the tenth highest career money earner on the USPGA Tour.
That may come as a surprise to many as, although he is clearly one of the best players in recent years, he is one of those players who seems to avoid the limelight and just go about his business. Leonard’s strength is his putting and his consistency. In fact, in 255 starts in his PGA Tour career he has been inside the top ten on sixt-two occasions and has been second on twelve occasions, in addition to his eight wins.
Leonard’s greatest triumph came in the 1997 British Open at Troon, where at the age of twenty-six, he came from five shots behind Jesper Parnevik to win the Open title. He was also second to Lawrie after the playoff in 1999. He was second to Love at the 1997 USPGA and has had a great run at both the Players Championship and the Tour Championship in recent times. Throw in the 1992 US Amateur and it has been a stellar career to date and at just thirty years of age he has many years of golf to play.
His win here at Palm Beach Gardens came at the expense of Davis Love III who had the lead all to himself with nine holes to go. That run came to a halt, as Love was unable to build on his lead during the run home and eventually slipped backwards to finish equal second. Chad Campbell, who just three weeks ago in Tuscon had finished second to Frank Lickliter, stormed home with a last round 65 to grab a share of second with Love. After a solid start to his career on the USPGA Tour in 2002, he is now starting to show that form that catapulted him on to the USPGA Tour via the Battlefield Promotion on the then Buy.Com Tour. Campbell certainly looks to be a star of the future.
Tim Herron was fourth with Jim Furyk, Notah Begay and Billy Mayfair in fifth.
It was good to see the return to contention of the likes of Begay and Franco, and now that they are getting close to top form, a win for either may not be too far away.
Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy must have a liking for this event as it was at this tournament, but not this venue, in his rookie year in 2001 that he finished second to Jesper Parnevik. His 14th place was the best of the Australasians and a cheque for $US80,000 will help his cause as, once again, he is being plagued by inconsistency. Robert Allenby was 40th, John Senden 48th, Rod Pampling and Aaron Baddeley 57th and Adam Scott despite a final round course record 62 was 65th and Mathew Goggin 71st.
The PGA Tour will now head to Orlando for the Bay Hill Invitational where Tiger Woods will play for the first time since the Accenture World Match Play Championships.