Leonard holed his approach shot for an eagle on the first hole, a shot that propelled the veteran to a 4-under 68 in the opening round. He took dead aim with an 8-iron from 147 yards and found his target, holing the shot on the fly and damaging the cup in the process.
“Fun way to start the day,” Leonard said. “It made some noise, so we knew it hit the pin at some point, but didn’t know until we got up there that it had just blown the front of the hole out.”
Leonard won at TPC Sawgrass in 1998 and has made the cut each of the last five years on the Stadium Course. The 41-year-old explained that he enjoys the annual trip to the Stadium Course, where his disadvantage off the tee can often be mitigated.
“I feel like this golf course doesn’t suit any particular style of play,” he said. “There’s some holes where length is an advantage, and there are some holes where it’s not as much of an advantage.
“I feel like I’m kind of on more level ground with a lot of guys here than I am at some other places.”