Notes Leonard Reaching for Goal

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KILKENNY, Ireland -- Justin Leonard has nearly doubled his earnings since August, but that still leaves him well short of his goal. He is 39th on the money list, and needs a strong finish to keep alive a streak for which Leonard doesn't get enough credit.
 
He has never missed the Tour Championship.
 
Leonard has never finished lower than 25th on the PGA Tour money list -- the top 30 qualify for the season-ending tournament -- from when he first played a full schedule in 1995.
 
'I'm well aware,' Leonard said Friday after a 68 left him only three shots out of the lead at the American Express Championship. 'I don't know exactly where I am or how much I'm behind. I don't want to know how much I'm behind. It's a real motivation.'
 
Time is running out.
 
Leonard is playing only two more tournaments -- Las Vegas and Tampa. He has made just over $1.4 million, and probably needs at least $600,000 to get a tee time at East Lake.
 
'I figure if I can't get it done between these three tournaments, I don't deserve to play,' he said. 'But I'd sure like to be there.'
 
Leonard is so determined to make the Tour Championship that he is playing Las Vegas, passing up a chance to watch his Texas Longhorns play Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
 
Then again, considering the Sooners have won the last four, maybe that's not such a bad thing.
 
'I had a bad experience last year,' Leonard said, referring to his bad seats and OU's 65-13 victory. 'We left after about three minutes into the second quarter. We went to the car show. We had more fun there than at the game.'
 
VAQUERO, HOME OF THE CLARET JUG
Todd Hamilton will play with Justin Leonard in the third round at Mount Juliet, two guys who don't know each other well but have plenty in common.

Both are building homes at Vaquero, a private golf club in Dallas.
 
The stronger bond is the claret jug. They are the last two players to have won the British Open at Royal Troon, Hamilton in July, Leonard in 1997.
 
'It would have been nice if he could have won the PGA,' Hamilton said, noting Leonard lost in a playoff at Whistling Straits. 'We could have had two major championships at the same club. As it is right now, we have the same trophy at the same club. Hopefully, it will happen again.'
 
COMMANDO CADDIE
Tiger Woods' caddie was giving orders Friday, this time to four guys with power blowers attached to their backs.
 
Woods hit his approach to about 35 feet on the ninth green, which was covered with leaves around the hole. As Peter Senior was chipping from 50 yards short of the green, Williams marched over to the maintenance crew.
 
'Are you going to blow the green?' he demanded.
 
'We're waiting on a tour official,' one of them meekly replied.
 
'You don't need them. Just blow the green,' he said.
 
They all jumped up and started the blowers, even as Senior was chipping. But the men turned their gas-powered machines to the far edges of the green, some 60 feet from where Woods and Senior (who chipped to 6 feet) needed the leaves removed.
 
Then, one of them nearly stepped in Senior's line.
 
The gallery cheered when they finished, and cheered even louder when Woods made his putt.
 
WHO'S NO. 2?
Ernie Els spent most of the summer trying to replace Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world. Now, the Big Easy has a chance to move past him to No. 2.
 
Vijay Singh, whose eight victories this year allowed him to end Woods' five-year run atop the world ranking, isn't playing the American Express Championship but will keep his top spot regardless.
 
Els can go past Woods by winning or finishing second; by finishing third with Woods in a three-way tie for fifth or worse; or by finishing fourth with Woods out of the top 11.
 
Even so, Els ultimately wants to be No. 1.
 
'I can get there,' he said. 'I'll just start practicing again and get into my game. Who knows what I can do? Vijay has definitely earned the No. 1 spot, no doubt. Winning eight times is phenomenal.'
 
DIVOTS
Thongchai Jaidee, the former paratrooper from Thailand, had a hole-in-one on the 11th hole in his round of 75. ... Brad Faxon holed out from 180 yards with a 6-iron on the seventh hole for an eagle. ... Players have been able to lift, clean and place their ball in the fairways and fringes of the green the first two days because of the rain. ... Davis Love III had a 69 despite making two double bogeys, both times hitting into the water. Love has made three double bogeys in two rounds, and is at 2-under 142. ... For David Toms, the one drawback being in Ireland in early October is missing college football games. He was searching for a satellite feed to watch his LSU Tigers play Georgia on Saturday night.
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - WGC-American Express Championship
  • Full Coverage - WGC-American Express Championship
     
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