Harpenden Common pro clinches Order of Merit title

Rob Leonard celebrates a two-shot victory after the Weston Homes plc Colchester GC Classic. Picture:

Rob Leonard celebrates a two-shot victory after the Weston Homes plc Colchester GC Classic. Picture: Tony Rushmer - Credit: Archant

Rob Leonard returned to top form with a superb two-shot triumph in the Weston Homes plc/Colchester Golf Club Classic.

The Harpenden Common head PGA professional fought off a clutch of players to secure his second Order of Merit success within the PGA in England (East) region.

Leonard, 29, came from off the pace to shoot a second-round 66 and finish on a six-under-par total of 134.

At that stage Ed Morton was seven-under-par, playing in the last group alongside Ian Ellis, who was just a stroke back.

But the pair’s respective challenges stuttered over the closing two holes and Leonard was able to celebrate a thrilling, if not altogether, expected victory.

Leonard’s 2014 results didn’t point towards him being a leading contender at the third Order of Merit event of the season.

But he opened up with a two-under 68 and that acted as the springboard for a sustained second-day bid that saw him successfully surge from three shots back overnight.

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Leonard, whose previous Order of Merit win came in the 2010 Virgin Atlantic Open, said: “I’m so chuffed. My form hasn’t been good at all this year, so going into this I wasn’t that confident. But I hit some really good shots in the first round and that built my confidence.

“The pressure was on all the way in the second round and I stood up to it – I’m really happy. I played well and hit a lot of solid shots coming in.”

Leonard’s second day began in ideal fashion – with a birdie at the first. He remained on the front foot, picking up further shots at the fifth and eighth.

He short-sided himself at the following hole – a par-five – but delivered an exquisite short pitch before rolling home an eight-footer to get to six-under.

Leonard kept his focus after dropping a shot at the next – his only bogey on the day – and then chipped in from behind the back of the 11th green for a birdie.

With a tricky breeze and a batch of players in the hunt, he stood tallest of all. It was a display full of character and class from Leonard, who became the head professional at Harpenden Common in April, 2012.