Cool Leonard turns bogeyman for Parnevik

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The Independent Online
The expectation was for a new name to be engraved on the century old Open Championship trophy. Sentiment said Colin Montgomerie, Tiger Woods was the favourite. As the finale arrived, the engraver could get on with the "J", but when Jesper Parnevik failed to hole out with his second shot at the last, Justin Leonard became the champion golfer of the year.

The 25-year-old American's victory, achieved by three strokes after a final round of 65, continued the run of winners from his country at Troon to five. Leonard's 272 total, 12 under, is the lowest achieved on this course. For Parnevik, Ayrshire is tinged with disappointment. At Turnberry in 1994, the Swede bogeyed the last to lose to Nick Price. The outright leader for all but three holes, Parnevik bogeyed the last two holes and tied for second place with Darren Clarke. Parnevik closed with a 73, two over par. "This one hurt more than Turnberry," he said.

Leonard was congratulated afterwards by fellow Texan Tom Kite, the US Ryder Cup captain. "Welcome to the team," Kite said.

"Tom had said to me in the week that I was 10th on the list and why don't I take care of it," Leonard said. "I thought, `why not?' It's been a big goal of mine to make the team for the last two years, ever since Tom was made captain. He is a good friend."

The third winner of a major this year in his twenties this year, after Woods and Ernie Els, Leonard has won twice on the US Tour. This was the first year as a professional that Leonard, who in three previous appearances had not finished higher than 58th, was exempt for the Championship. In the past two years, he came over and got through the qualifying. "Hopefully, I won't have to do that again," he said at the prize giving, "but if I do, I will."

He will not have to worry about that ordeal until the year 2037, when he is 65.

"Most of the day I was two or three behind, but I made a lot of putts which I hadn't yesterday," he said. "This is such a thrill. I hope it takes a long time in sink in. I was surprised how calm I stayed until the 18th."

Despite a bogey at the 10th, Leonard's putting kept him lurking with five pars. Then came three crucial interventions on the greens. He saved par from 18 feet at the 15th and holed from 12 feet for a birdie at the par-five 16th to tie for the lead. Another looked unlikely when he found the heart of the green at the short 17th, but he holed from 35 feet. "I was expecting to birdie the 16th," Leonard said, "but I was praying over the one at 17 just to two-putt. I saw the line and it went in."

At the same moment, Parnevik pushed his short birdie chance at the 16th. "I thought I would make that putt to go one ahead," he said. "I saw Justin had birdied the 17th and the wind went out of my sails."

Rattled he then missed the green at the next on the left and failed to get up and down, as he did form a bunker at the last.

While Troon's back nine, which Parnevik had previously mastered, was always going to be decisive, Leonard got himself into contention by sprinting to the turn in 31. As a result, the 1992 US Amateur champion cut his deficit from five to one when he claimed his sixth birdie of the round at the ninth. Five had come in six holes from the second, a run only interrupted by a dropped shot, caused by three-putting at the fifth.

In a preview of the struggle to come, Parnevik pulled his second shot to the first into a bunker but saved par with a brilliant recovery. Apart from a six at the par-five sixth, his two outward birdies came when he hit the flagstick at the third and the flag at the seventh. "Today the pressure was too much. I was struggling with my game and scrambling to save my life on every hole."

If Fred Couples, as the 1992 US Masters champion, was the most experienced of the leaders, he showed no sign of waking up to the fact. He birdied the first, but drove into a bunker at the second for a bogey and from then on he was less than inspired. Clarke, too, birdied the first, two- putting from 20 yards short of the fairway.

It was also the moment that suggested Northern Ireland was not to discover her first Open champion since Fred Daly in 1947. Clarke, who led by four shots at the turn on Saturday, pushed his tee shot at the second on to the beach. He was saved the embarrassment of playing with the waters of the Firth of Clyde at his feet by the fact that it was out of bounds, but he put his next into a fairway bunker and took a double-bogey six. Jim Furyk, after a one-birdie round of 70, took third place at five under with Padraig Harrington, after a closing 67, one further back.

The silver claret jug may well some day bear the name of Tiger Woods, but not even the youngest US Masters champion could comeback from being 13 strokes back after 36 holes. That feat remains the sole preserve of George Duncan at Royal Cinque Port's, Deal, in 1920. Starting the final round eight strokes behind, Woods needed to repeat Saturday's course record- equalling 64.

That was the only round in which he avoided what the scoring summary statistics call a "disaster". After his seven at the 11th on Thursday and his eight at the 10th on Friday, Woods got it in earlier yesterday at the short eighth. The Postage Stamp licked him for a triple-bogey six after he found the deep bunker on the right. The ball was half-plugged in the sand and his first escape caught the steep bank and rolled back down to his feet.

Woods then came out to 25 feet, but three putts followed. His second lipped out from four feet and his red shirt lost some of its supposed power. "I knew I couldn't win then," Woods said.

FINAL SCORES FROM THE 126th OPEN

(GB or Irl unless stated; *denotes amateur))

272

(pounds 250,000)

J Leonard (US) 69, 66, 72, 65

275

(pounds 150,000)

D Clarke (N Irl) 67, 66, 71, 71

J Parnevik (Swe) 70, 66, 66, 73

279

(pounds 90,000)

J Furyk (US) 67, 72, 70, 70

280

(pounds 62,500)

S Ames (Trin) 74, 69, 66, 71

P Harrington 75, 69, 69, 67

281

(pounds 40,666)

F Couples (US) 69, 68, 70, 74

P O'Malley (Aus) 73, 70, 70, 68

E Romero (Arg) 74, 68, 67, 72

282

(pounds 24,300)

R Allenby (Aus) 76, 68, 66, 72

M Calcavecchia (US) 74, 67, 72, 69

E Els (SA) 75, 69, 69, 69

R Goosen (SA) 75, 69, 70, 68

T Kite (US) 72, 67, 74, 69

D Love III (US) 70, 71, 74, 67

S Maruyama (Japan) 74, 69, 70, 69

F Nobilo (NZ) 74, 72, 68, 68

T Watson (US) 71, 70, 70, 71

L Westwood 73, 70, 67, 72

283

(pounds 14,500)

S Appleby (Aus) 72, 72, 68, 71

B Faxon (US) 77, 67, 72, 67

M James 76, 67, 70, 70

J M Olazabal (Sp) 75, 68, 73, 67

284

(pounds 10,362)

J Haas (US) 71, 70, 73, 70

T Lehman (US) 74, 72, 72, 66

P Lonard (Aus) 72, 70, 69, 73

P Mickelson (US) 76, 68, 69, 71

C Montgomerie 76, 69, 69, 70

D A Russell 75, 72, 68, 69

T Woods (US) 72, 74, 64, 74

I Woosnam 71, 73, 69, 71

286

(pounds 8,320)

R Davis (Aus) 73, 73, 70, 70

D Duval (US) 73, 69, 73, 71

J Lomas 72, 71, 69, 74

A Magee (US) 70, 75, 72, 69

M McNulty (Zim) 78, 67, 72, 69

287

(pounds 7,900)

G Norman (Aus) 69, 73, 70, 75

288

(pounds 7,550)

M Bradley (US) 72, 73, 73, 70

J Kernohan (US) 76, 70, 74, 68

B Langer (Ger) 72, 74, 69, 73

M O'Meara (US) 73, 73, 74, 68

R Russell 72, 72, 74, 70

V Singh (Fiji) 77, 69, 70, 72

289

(pounds 7,050)

J Coceres (Arg) 76, 70, 71, 72

J Kelly (US) 76, 68, 72, 73

C Strange (US) 71, 71, 70, 77

D Tapping 71, 66, 78, 74

290

(pounds 6,750)

S Jones (US) 76, 71, 68, 75

J Payne 74, 71, 74, 71

291

(pounds 6,205)

R Boxall 75, 71, 72, 73

A Cabrera (Arg) 70, 70, 76, 75

N Faldo 71, 73, 75, 72

J Maggert (US) 76, 69, 71, 75

P Mitchell 75, 69, 76, 71

C Pavin (US) 78, 69, 76, 68

W Riley (Aus) 74, 71, 75, 71

P Senior (Aus) 76, 70, 73, 72

G Turner (NZ) 76, 71, 72, 72

292

(pounds 5,800)

P Stewart (US) 73, 74, 71, 74

293

(pounds 5,750)

*B Howard 70, 74, 76, 73

J Nicklaus (US) 73, 74, 71, 75

294

(pounds 5,625)

T Purtzer (US) 72, 71, 73, 78

J Spence 78, 69, 72, 75

S Stricker (US) 72, 73, 74, 75

P Teravainen (US) 74, 72, 73, 75

295

(pounds 5,450)

G Clark 74, 72, 72, 77

P-U Johansson (Swe) 72, 75, 73, 75

P McGinley 76, 71, 77, 71

296

(pounds 5,350)

T Tolles (US) 77, 68, 75, 76

298

(pounds 5,300)

B Andrade (US) 72, 72, 78, 76

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