Leonard surges to grab Hope lead

By KEN PETERS
Associated Press

PALM DESERT, Calif. – Justin Leonard fell into the common golf trap of thinking too much and tinkering with his game before he finally snapped out of it last summer.

Having regained his confidence and his game, Leonard has played extremely well this week in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, with his 6-under 66 Saturday good for a four-shot lead in the event he won in 2005.

Asked about his steady play and accurate ball-striking during the first four rounds, he said, “Yeah, it’s because I don’t have a lot of conscious thoughts going on right now with my golf game.

“I know I’m not going to hit every shot perfect or the way I want to, but I know I’m going to hit a good number of them that way; not perfect, but the way I want to.”

Leonard went to 23-under 265 through 72 holes of the five-day Hope.

Anthony Kim (66), Kenny Perry (66), D.J. Trahan (70) and Robert Gamez (71) were tied for second at 19 under.

Former British Open champion Leonard said he wants to be steady again over the final 18 holes.

“I think that’s my real challenge, to just go out and play with the same confidence and attitude and demeanor that I’ve played with the last four days,” he said.

The first four rounds of the Hope are a pro-am played over four different courses. The low-scoring 70 pros and ties play the final round at the Classic Club.

Leonard began the fourth round in a second-place tie with Trahan, one shot back of Gamez. Leonard moved in front when he rolled in a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 13 to reach 20 under.

He hit a 4-wood from 247 yards to within 6 feet on the 561-yard par-5 14th and made that putt to widen his lead to three shots. He capped his day at the Classic Club with a 1-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

Gamez also played at the Classic Club. Kim was at La Quinta Country Club, and Trahan and Perry at PGA West.

Leonard took the Hope title in 2005 with a closing 67 to finish at 25-under 335, good for a three-shot victory over Tim Clark and Joe Ogilvie.

The 22-year-old Kim, beginning his second full year on Tour, said Leonard’s lead is imposing, but not impossible to overcome.

“Four shots is a lot of shots. You never know what can happen, though,” Kim said. “Hopefully my game will be sharp and the birdies will come. I need to play well on the front nine and make some birdies on those holes.

“If I get off to that kind of start, I’ll be ready to go.”

Kim said he is a friend and admirer of Leonard’s, and Leonard thinks highly of him, too.

“I know a lot about Anthony and I love his game,” Leonard said. “I like the things that he’s doing off the course. He’s got an unbelievable future.”

While this year’s tournament is missing the top 23 players in the world rankings, Leonard’s name atop the leaderboard provides some star power. He has won 11 times on the tour, including the 1997 British Open.

The 35-year-old former University of Texas standout won the Texas Open last year for his most recent victory. He’s coming off a tie for eighth in the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.

Notes: Among those missing the cut, with scores of 282 and higher out, was Daniel Chopra at 284. He won the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. David Duval, whose tour record-tying 59 on the final day gave him the 1999 Hope title, missed the cut by 16 shots this time. He shot 73-77-73-74. ... Leonard’s first four rounds didn’t vary much, as he had cards of 68-64-67-66. ... Gamez said of his day: “I got my bad round out of the way, for sure. If you’re going to have a bad round, 71 is not that bad. In this tournament it is, but luckily I had the lead starting, so I could get away with one.”

Scores with relation to par from the fourth round of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, played Jan. 19 at the par-72, 7,305-yard Classic Club at Northstar (c), par-72, 6,930-yard Arnold Palmer Private Course at PGA West (p), par-72, 7,060-yard La Quinta Country Club (q) and par-72, 7,553-yard Palmer Course at SilverRock (s) in Palm Desert, Calif.:

  1. Justin Leonard68s-64l-67p-66c--265

-232. Robert Gamez66s-65l-67p-71c--269

-192. D.J. Trahan67c-64s-68l-70p--269

-192. Anthony Kim69p-67c-67s-66l--269

-192. Kenny Perry66c-72s-65l-66p--269

-196. Steve Elkington66l-68p-69c-67s--270

-186. Boo Weekley69s-70l-62p-69c--270

-188. Brett Rumford67s-68l-69p-67c--271

-178. Ben Crane66l-69p-69c-67s--271

-178. Dustin Johnson67p-69c-72s-63l--271

-178. Shane Bertsch70c-71s-64l-66p--271

-1712. Nicholas Thompson68c-70s-68l-66p--272

-1613. Ryuji Imada71l-68p-67c-67s--273

-1513. Scott Verplank70p-65c-70s-68l--273

-1513. Ryan Moore75s-64l-67p-67c--273

-1513. John Merrick73c-65s-67l-68p--273

-1517. Chez Reavie69s-68l-67p-70c--274

-1417. Bill Haas69c-68s-69l-68p--274

-1417. Matt Jones70p-70c-68s-66l--274

-1417. Charley Hoffman68s-72l-71p-63c--274

-1417. Robert Allenby73p-69c-68s-64l--274

-1422. Charles Warren74c-69s-65l-67p--275

-1322. Vaughn Taylor70c-68s-68l-69p--275

-1322. Bart Bryant71l-69p-68c-67s--275

-1322. Steve Flesch72c-69s-69l-65p--275

-1322. Jesper Parnevik67s-74l-66p-68c--275

-1322. Tim Petrovic65c-70s-68l-72p--275

-1322. Jason Bohn66s-74l-66p-69c--275

-1322. John Senden68l-73p-66c-68s--275

-1330. Johnson Wagner67p-71c-73s-65l--276

-1230. Heath Slocum69l-70p-72c-65s--276

-1230. Tom Scherrer71s-70l-66p-69c--276

-1230. Stewart Cink68c-71s-66l-71p--276

-1230. Mathew Goggin65c-73s-69l-69p--276

-1235. Kevin Na69c-69s-70l-69p--277

-1135. Steve Marino72s-71l-68p-66c--277

-1135. Y.E. Yang71p-70c-67s-69l--277

-1135. Brian Davis72l-69p-69c-67s--277

-1135. Rod Pampling71p-70c-67s-69l--277

-1135. Jeff Maggert70l-71p-70c-66s--277

-1135. Charlie Wi68l-68p-74c-67s--277

-1135. Brian Gay71p-67c-71s-68l--277

-1143. Rich Beem72s-72l-68p-66c--278

-1043. Joe Durant65c-73s-71l-69p--278

-1043. Frank Lickliter II72c-69s-68l-69p--278

-1043. Mike Weir70s-70l-68p-70c--278

-1047. Olin Browne68l-68p-75c-68s--279

-947. Michael Allen69p-71c-70s-69l--279

-947. Bubba Watson70l-71p-66c-72s--279

-947. Brad Adamonis68l-70p-69c-72s--279

-947. Jin Park69l-74p-66c-70s--279

-947. Tommy Armour III70l-71p-70c-68s--279

-947. Kyle Thompson68l-67p-72c-72s--279

-947. Justin Bolli72c-71s-69l-67p--279

-955. Kevin Stadler72s-69l-68p-71c--280

-855. Paul Claxton70s-73l-68p-69c--280

-855. Jason Gore71s-72l-69p-68c--280

-855. Chris Stroud70s-71l-69p-70c--280

-855. Kevin Sutherland70s-71l-71p-68c--280

-855. Woody Austin68s-72l-73p-67c--280

-855. Jeff Quinney66l-69p-73c-72s--280

-855. Ryan Armour70c-75s-68l-67p--280

-855. Shaun Micheel72s-71l-67p-70c--280

-855. Ken Duke67s-70l-69p-74c--280

-865. J.J. Henry71c-72s-69l-69p--281

-765. Brett Wetterich71l-71p-67c-72s--281

-765. Lucas Glover70l-71p-69c-71s--281

-765. Chad Campbell76s-68l-69p-68c--281

-765. Mark Brooks71p-70c-70s-70l--281

-765. Paul Goydos72p-70c-71s-68l--281

-765. Michael Letzig68c-75s-67l-71p--281

-765. Joe Ogilvie71l-70p-67c-73s--281

-765. Martin Laird71p-69c-71s-70l--281

-765. Scott McCarron68s-74l-70p-69c--281

-765. Fred Couples69l-73p-71c-68s--281

-765. Patrick Sheehan73c-71s-72l-65p--281

-7• • •

Missed the cut

  1. Rocco Mediate70l-70p-72c-70s--282

-677. Alex Cejka71p-71c-68s-72l--282

-677. Eric Axley69p-71c-72s-70l--282

-677. Corey Pavin69s-71l-69p-73c--282

-677. Cliff Kresge70l-72p-70c-70s--282

-677. Cameron Beckman70p-73c-69s-70l--282

-677. Briny Baird73c-74s-68l-67p--282

-677. Jim McGovern72s-75l-62p-73c--282

-677. Billy Mayfair68l-74p-71c-69s--282

-677. Jeff Sluman71l-67p-72c-72s--282

-677. Kevin Streelman67p-72c-74s-69l--282

-688. Bob Tway73c-73s-68l-69p--283

-588. Lee Janzen66p-77c-71s-69l--283

-588. Marc Turnesa70c-73s-74l-66p--283

-588. Kent Jones70p-75c-71s-67l--283

-588. Omar Uresti65p-72c-73s-73l--283

-588. Scott Sterling72p-74c-67s-70l--283

-588. George McNeill68p-73c-71s-71l--283

-588. Mark O'Meara69l-71p-70c-73s--283

-596. Daniel Chopra73p-74c-68s-69l--284

-496. Ron Whittaker69c-73s-72l-70p--284

-496. Chris DiMarco72p-67c-73s-72l--284

-496. Matt Kuchar73c-75s-73l-63p--284

-496. Mark Hensby69p-67c-72s-76l--284

-496. Troy Matteson78s-67l-70p-69c--284

-496. Tommy Gainey70s-70l-67p-77c--284

-496. Carl Pettersson69c-76s-67l-72p--284

-496. Jon Mills69s-70l-72p-73c--284

-4105. Mark Calcavecchia67l-71p-74c-73s--285

-3105. Todd Hamilton67p-69c-76s-73l--285

-3105. Jason Allred72l-72p-70c-71s--285

-3105. Tim Wilkinson69c-73s-72l-71p--285

-3109. Brad Elder71l-72p-69c-74s--286

-2109. Billy Andrade73p-70c-69s-74l--286

-2109. Nick Flanagan68l-70p-76c-72s--286

-2109. Todd Demsey71p-75c-71s-69l--286

-2113. Will MacKenzie67p-75c-73s-72l--287

-1114. Nathan Green68p-75c-71s-74l--288

E114. Paul Stankowski76c-69s-69l-74p--288

E116. Cody Freeman73c-71s-73l-72p--289
+1117. Dean Wilson71s-69l-71p-79c--290
+2117. John Rollins71p-72c-69s-78l--290
+2119. Richard Johnson72s-74l-71p-74c--291
+3119. Travis Perkins73p-71c-73s-74l--291
+3121. J.L. Lewis72c-74s-75l-71p--292
+4122. Tim Herron70c-74s-77l-72p--293
+5122. Tag Ridings68s-78l-74p-73c--293
+5124. Stephen Leaney72l-78p-70c-75s--295
+7125. David Duval73l-77p-73c-74s--297
+9126. Erik Wolf78l-77p-76c-71s--302
+14WD. John Daly71s-70l-71p-WD

WD. Shigeki Maruyama65c-76s-74l-WD

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