Double delight for Leonard
ROBERT LEONARD enjoyed a double reason for celebration in winning the Hertfordshire Professional Championship at South Herts on Friday. Not only was it his biggest victory since turning pro, but it came four years after he had won the county amateur
ROBERT LEONARD enjoyed a double reason for celebration in winning the Hertfordshire Professional Championship at South Herts on Friday.
Not only was it his biggest victory since turning pro, but it came four years after he had won the county amateur championship to join the select few who have collected both Herts titles.
Two who have previously claimed that distinction - Peter Cherry and Bobby Mitchell - were among his challengers, as was defending champion Andrew Clapp, but Leonard surged ahead as he opened with three birdies in the first five holes, and went on for a three under par round of 69 to be three ahead of the field.
He followed with one over par 73 for a two under par 142 total to win by six strokes from
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Martin Bird (Chesfield Downs), 75 73 for 148, with Paul Hetherington (Great Hadham) third, 76 73 for 149.
Leonard also retained the assistants trophy which he won last year, and his success followed victory in the Thomson Tour Championship last season.
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Formerly at Harpenden Common when he won the county amateur title, he is now an assistant at Mid Herts to club professional Barney Puttick, from whom he receives coaching. "He won the title in 1983 - before I was born!" said Leonard, who is in the
second of his three-year trainee course for PGA qualification.
"I took my second-year exams last week, so have not been playing a great deal lately," he said. "I have kept up my practice, and in the morning round I played really well and held it together in the afternoon."
In his opening 69 he needed putts of only 4ft and 3ft to birdie the second and third holes and at the par 5 fifth chipped and putted for birdie. Although dropping a shot at the sixth, he eagled the ninth to be four under par at the turn and three ahead of the field.
Over the second nine he bogeyed 11, then birdied 13, but missed a 3ft birdie putt at the short 14th, dropped a shot at 16 but parred his way back for 73.
Defending champion Clapp, recently appointed club professional at Brickendon Grange, finished fourth after rounds of 73 70, while sharing fifth place on 151 were Stephen Harris, (Harpenden), 75 76, Marc Warwick (Elstree) 72 79 and Andrew Hurley (Arkley) 77 74. Peter Cherry (Ashridge) had rounds of 76 78 and Bobby Mitchell (South Herts) 77 78.
In winning the county amateur title at Old Fold Manor in 2004, Leonard, then 19, needed two extra holes before accounting for Chris Tingey (Mid Herts, holing a 2ft putt on the 20th for victory to be ahead for the first time in the match.