Leonard Wins in Playoff at St Jude Classic

By Associated PressJune 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
Stanford St. Jude ChampionshipMEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Justin Leonard thought he won on the final hole of regulation only to see his ball go left of the cup. Then he was a foot away from victory on the first playoff hole.
Luckily, his ball rolled one last turn into the cup on the next hole.
Leonard won the Stanford St. Jude Championship in a playoff Sunday, holing a 19-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole to beat Masters champion Trevor Immelman and Robert Allenby.
Leonard blew a one-stroke lead with two holes left to drop into the playoff, but won on the 150-yard, par-3 11th when Immelman pushed his birdie attempt past the hole.
I dont think that ball wouldve rolled another half-inch, Leonard said. It just barely got there the greens are so dry and fast.
Its Leonards 12th PGA TOUR title, his second at TPC Southwind and his first since the 2007 Valero Texas Open'also in a playoff. He closed with a 4-under 68 to match Allenby (65) and Immelman (69) at 4-under 276, the highest 72-hole total since this event moved to the TPC at Southwind course in 1989.
Leonard earned $1.08 million and now is fifth in the Ryder Cup standings with five Top 10s this year. He hasnt played in the Ryder Cup since 1999, when his 45-foot putt on the 17th hole at Brookline clinched the largest comeback in history.
Strangers still ask him most about that putt, not his 1997 British Open victory, and he even heard about it a couple times Sunday. Its why he is so eager to play his way back onto the Ryder Cup team.
I dont know how much of a lock I am, but I feel pretty good about making it. Im looking forward to being on that team, and Im looking forward to us winning again soon, Leonard said.
It was almost a perfect day for the Texan who spent last week practicing in the Dallas heat, albeit wearing shorts and riding a cart. He started Sunday tied for seventh and was one of 10 who had a share of the lead at some point in the final round with the temperature feeling hotter than 100 degrees.
Leonard was the closest to a birdie on the first hole of the playoff on the par-4 18th only to come up a foot short. All three parred, sending the playoff to the island green at No. 11, where each had good shots.
Allenby, who came in undefeated worldwide in 10 playoffs, went first from 20 feet and missed a foot to the right. Leonard stroked in his putt next, the ball slowing near the cup to show off the Nike logo before falling in.
Immelman, who birdied the last three holes of regulation to join the playoff, had the shortest putt at 11 feet to push the playoff to a third hole in search of his second win in eight weeks. But he just missed, giving the title to Leonard.
I was comfortable with my lie, Immelman said. I felt like it was just left edge. I thought I hit a pretty good putt. It just didnt turn at all, finished right behind the hole unfortunately. But Justin made a great putt. Birdie to win is pretty nice.
Allenby said he thought his streak in playoffs had to come to an end sometime.
I lost to a good putt. Theres no bad thoughts about that, he said.
Sergio Garcia (66), Padraig Harrington (68), Boo Weekley (68) and Alex Cejka (70) tied for fourth at 3 under.
Leonards victory kept him from wondering what happened after he had the lead to himself with a birdie on No. 15.
He missed a chance to pad that margin on the par-5 16th when his approach went over the green, and he had to salvage par. His tee shot on No. 17 went into the right rough, and Leonard chipped out into the fairway and pushed a par putt from 15 feet 3 feet past the hole.
On No. 18, Leonard still had a chance to win without a playoff. He stuck an iron from 176 yards to 13 feet and rolled a nice putt that missed just left of the hole.
Gavin Coles, the Australian whose only win this year was on the Nationwide Tour at the Louisiana Open, was the last player with a chance to win in 72 holes if he birdied the 18th. He sent his tee shot into the right rough, his second into a greenside bunker and blasted out over the green into the rough. He couldnt hole his chip to get into the playoff, then double bogeyed for a 71 and a 278 total that left him tied for eighth with Tom Pernice, who carded the tourneys best round at 63, and Scott Verplank (68).
It was like a train wreck, Coles said.
Allenby walked over to the range to warm up, while Leonard grabbed a cool drink in the shade behind the 18th green before walking over to the range himself while the final two groups finished. Immelman, in the last group, two of the last three holes and had a 23-footer for birdie on No. 18 to make it a three-man playoff. He did, celebrating with a fist pump.
Only 12 players finished under par. Tim Clark started with a two-stroke lead before opening with a triple-bogey and finished with a 78 and tied for 18th.
Leonard is the fifth multiple winner in Memphis, joining Dave Hill (four), Lee Trevino (three), Nick Price (two) and David Toms (two). Leonard is 2-4 in playoffs, while Immelman is 0-2. Garcia had the only bogey-free round Sunday. Pernices finish kept him waiting around to see if he made a playoff, and he missed seeing his 13-year-old daughter Brooke, who suffers from a rare congenital disease that has left her blind, sing the national anthem before the Cubs-Dodgers game Sunday night.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - St. Jude Championship
  • Getty Images

    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

    Getty Images

    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

    Getty Images

    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.