June 9, 1997 in Sports

Misfortune Favors Leonard

Associated Press
 

Golf

In the gentlemen’s game of golf, no one wants to win just because the other guy fell apart. So forgive Justin Leonard for not jumping for joy after his gift victory at the Kemper Open in Potomac, Md.

Leonard notched his second career PGA Tour win by one stroke Sunday after Mark Wiebe - a journeyman who hasn’t won in 11 years - blew a four-stroke lead and missed two-foot par putts on the last two holes.

“I’m happy with the outcome,” said Leonard, whose $270,000 paycheck is his biggest on the tour. “If it would have happened differently, I might have been a little happier… . I really would have rather seen him make that putt (on No. 18) and us go into a playoff.”

Wiebe missed four putts from three feet or closer over the final 11 holes, a startling collapse by one of the few people who had mastered the TPC at Avenel’s bumpy, uneven greens with bogey-free rounds both Friday and Saturday. He badly misread the break on a 20-foot birdie putt that would have won the tournament at No. 18, then pulled his par putt to the left.

“I’m speechless,” a stunned Wiebe said before gathering his thoughts at the post-tournament news conference. “I’m very disappointed. I felt like it was my tournament to win or lose, and I lost… . When you hit putts like that, it’s probably not to be, I guess.”

Leonard’s winning round was a 67 for a 10-under 274 total, but his charge for the lead appeared to fall apart when his tee shot landed next to a cart path on 16. He bogeyed that hole, then parred the last two and watched as Wiebe fell apart.

Leonard’s other tour victory came at last year’s Buick Open. The 24-year-old Texan’s best finish this year - and his only top 10 placing - had been a tie for seventh at the Masters.

Both golfers survived a late run by Nick Faldo, who moved within two strokes of the lead before bogeying the last two holes for a 71 and 277.

Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett shot a 68 for 285.

Seniors

Gil Morgan shot a 5-under 67 at Nashville, Tenn., and won his second straight tournament with a two-stroke victory at the $1.3 million BellSouth Senior Classic.

Morgan turned in four birdies with no bogeys and totaled 14-under 202 for 54 holes, holding off John Bland (68-204) for his third victory this year and fourth since joining the tour last fall.

LPGA

Pat Hurst made a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the LPGA Oldsmobile Classic at East Lansing, Mich., beating Juli Inkster by one stroke.

In her third season on the LPGA tour, the 28-year-old Hurst shot a 2-under-par 70 for a 9-under 279 total and her first victory. She collected the $90,000 winner’s share of the $600,000 purse and Inkster, a 14-year tour veteran who has not won since 1992, earned $55,855.

Finishing two strokes behind Hurst were Susie Redman, who four-putted the par-5 14th on the way to a 71, and Kim Saiki, who shot a final-round 69.

Robin Walton of Clarkston shot a 77 to finish at 292.

European Grand Prix

Colin Montgomerie, his game primed for the U.S. Open, captured the European Grand Prix at Hexham, England, with a 7-under-par 65 for his first victory of the year.

The 33-year-old Scotsman finished with a four-round total of 18-under-par 270, five shots ahead of defending champion Retief Goosen of South Africa.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email