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Justin Leonard seeks record Texas win

Former British Open champion Justin Leonard returns to one of his happiest hunting grounds for this week’s Texas Open in San Antonio, where he will bid to become the event’s first four-time winner.

The 36-year-old emulated fellow American Arnold Palmer by completing a hat-trick of titles in 2007 and has always relished playing at La Cantera Golf Club’s Resort Course.

“I’ve had some great tournaments here in the past,” Dallas-born Leonard told reporters in the build-up to Thursday’s opening round.

“Starting out my first year down here, I played well and finished in the top 20. I got my card and next year I got into the Tour Championship by finishing second to Duffy here.”

Leonard ended up six strokes behind the triumphant Duffy Waldorf in 1995 and was again a runner-up in 1998, finishing just one shot behind Hal Sutton.

After posting back-to-back victories at La Cantera in 2000 and 2001, Leonard edged out Swede Jesper Parnevik in a playoff for the 2007 title to join Palmer in the record books.

Golfing great Palmer won the Texas Open three years in a row from 1960.

Although yet to visit the winner’s circle on the 2009 PGA Tour he has high hopes for this week.

“You do have some good memories to pull on,” said Leonard, who won his only major title at the 1997 British Open. “The fact that I’ve played well here in the past makes it a little easier to come here with some confidence.”

Leonard is one of seven former Texas Open champions competing this week, joining Eric Axley (2006), Robert Gamez (2005), Bart Bryant (2004), Tim Herron (1997), Bob Estes (1994) and Corey Pavin (1988) in the field.

Fifteenth-ranked Anthony Kim is the only member of the world’s top 20 taking part while fellow American Zach Johnson, winner of the 2007 Masters, defends the title he won by two shots at La Cantera last year.

 

May 13, 2009




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