Leonard's wild ride toward the lead
HUMBLE, Texas -- When asked to describe his third-round 67 at the Shell Houston Open, Justin Leonard said, "It was entertaining for sure."
That it was. It was also thrilling, agonizing, frustrating and, in the end, still satisfying. Leonard's day was a wild ride that saw him hole out twice for eagle in a three-hole stretch, three-putt the ninth hole to prevent the first 29 at Redstone GC's Tournament Course, make birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 to get to nine under par and tie for the tournament lead after starting the day T-31 and then, as would fittingly happen at a tournament sponsored by a gasoline company, leaked oil (or ran out of gas, take your pick of clichÃ©s) coming in, a double bogey (thanks to a semi-skulled bunker shot on the par-3 14th) and bogey leaving him at six under par, T-10 with the leaders having a few holes to play.
"Right now, five minutes removed, I'm still simmering a little bit for the way I finished," said Leonard. "Happy about the day, though. Little disappointed about the last few holes, but a lot of good stuff out there."
Among the good stuff was a 168-yard 6-iron that found the cup on No. 6 for an eagle and a hole-out from 50 yards on the par-5 eighth for another eagle. Leonard only had two eagles on the year (counting an ace at the Transitions Championship) on the year coming in.
Also among the good was LeonardÂ¹s putting. A missing ingredient most of this season, Leonard needed but 26 putts Saturday. "I discovered something at Honda during the third round," said Leonard. "I was kind of moving my head and my caddie, my instructor, Dr. (Richard) Coop, they've all been telling me to keep my head still, but I finally felt it during a round. Since then I've really hit a lot of good putts."
Which made for a fairly entertaining round of golf.
-- E. Michael Johnson