Mature Leonard looking forward to Troon
Justin Leonard, the winner last time theOpen was held on the Royal Troon links, struggled on Monday to recall the greatest win of his career.
Many a weekend golf hacker can relate stroke for stroke their rounds from decades past but the modest American said only the final round from his one major win remained clearly in his memory.
He was happy to tell a news conference, though, fuller details of the after-tournament revelries which marked his breakthrough win of 1997.
"I don't know if it's right to talk about this even now," he said. "But it may just have been that I and a few close friends snuck up on the 17th green in the dark on that Sunday night and had a bit of a, er, party.
"We may have had some pizzas there that time and there may have been three or four beers..."
In case Royal and Ancient organising officials rush to double security, Leonard assured reporters he had grown up since those days and at the age of 32 was now more preoccupied with baby bottles than beer cans.
"Since becoming a dad, I've changed the way I think about things, I guess," he said.
"I mean my little girl doesn't even know what golf is, she just knows it's the place I go to work and it puts a smile on her face. And that puts a smile on mine.
"When I get a few days away from the golf course now I can really get away and relax without thinking a thing about golf. That's got to be a good thing."
Leonard, who only failed to add a second Open title in 1999 when Briton Paul Lawrie prevailed in a playoff with the American and France's Jean Van de Velde in Carnoustie, does not rate his chances of another Troon win this week.
He has struggled with his swing and putting in 2004 so all thoughts of major wins, or even a place in the U.S. Ryder Cup team, are out of bounds.
"I'm not even thinking about it (September's Ryder Cup in Michigan), I'm not worried about it and I'm not expecting to be picked," he said. "It's not any way in my thoughts.
"I couldn't tell you if I was in the top 50 or the top 20 of the rankings.
"I was worried about it at the start of the year and that just put pressure on my golf. So I stopped thinking like that."
All in all, Leonard said he was a much more laidback character than the 1997 version -- even if post-tournament parties on the putting greens are definitely a thing of the past.
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