MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Justin Leonard sure knows how to make things interesting.

Leonard frittered away most of the largest lead on the PGA Tour this year before pulling out a one-stroke victory over David Toms in the St. Jude Classic on Sunday, the first wire-to-wire win of his career.

Starting with an eight-stroke lead, Leonard closed with a 3-over 73 to finish at 14-under 266 and earn his second title of the year and 10th of his career.

It’s the second time Leonard didn’t record a birdie in his final round and still won, the last at 2002 in Hilton Head when he became the first tour winner to do that in seven years. He hit only five of 18 greens in regulation.

Toms, the two-time defending champion here, helped spice up the final holes with a 63 that included four birdies, an eagle and a bogey on the back nine. He waited on the practice range and signed autographs while waiting to see if Leonard would slip enough to force a playoff.

But Leonard chipped within 7 feet and sunk the putt for par on the par-4 17th, then hit into a fairway bunker then put his second shot 44 yards short of the green in the rough in front of the grandstands.

Leonard took relief with a drop, then chipped over a bunker within 34 feet and putted out from less than 4 feet for bogey and the victory. He picked his ball up out of the hole, then fell back onto the green in relief.

Kang wins Corning

CORNING, N.Y. – Jimin Kang aced the 15th hole just moments after a deflating bogey and shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to win the LPGA Corning Classic, edging Annika Sorenstam and rookie Meena Lee by two strokes for her first career title.

Kang finished with a 15-under 273 and took home the winner’s check of $165,000, by far her biggest payday since joining the tour in 2003. She became the seventh first-time winner in the tournament’s 27-year history and denied Sorenstam her fifth victory in seven starts this year.

Sorenstam, ailing with a cold all week but still in the hunt for another win, made a late charge with three birdies over her final seven holes and finished with a 69.

Kang and Lee, playing in the group ahead of Sorenstam, began the final hole tied at 15 under. Lee then self-destructed with a double bogey, clearing the way for Kang.

Lee’s drive at 18 sailed under a tree and her second shot clipped some branches, leaving her with a difficult, slanting lie at the right edge of the green. Her pitch fell short, she two-putted and Kang sank a short par putt for the win.

Reid shocked’ by win

LIGONIER, Pa. – The Senior PGA was Dana Quigley’s to win all day, then Jerry Pate’s. Somehow, some way, Mike Reid won it instead.

Reid, down by three shots with one hole to play, forced himself into a three-way playoff with Quigley and Pate with a long eagle putt on No. 18, then birdied the same hole during the only playoff hole for his first tournament win since 1990.

Pate, absent from tournament golf for more than 20 years, missed an 8-footer for birdie that would have forced a second playoff hole, and Quigley was out of it after hitting his second shot into the water on the 515-yard, par-5 hole.

“I’m as shocked as anybody,” said the 50-year-old Reid, who wasn’t eligible for the Champions Tour until last year and hadn’t won since the 1990 Casio World Open in Japan.

That Reid made the playoff was remarkable by itself, as Quigley and Pate seemingly staged a two-man race all day. Reid was down by six shots with eight to play and three shots with only the 18th left, only to drop a 30-footer for an eagle 3 while Pate bogeyed by three-putting from 18 feet.

Pate, with a one-shot lead going into the final hole of regulation, tried to play it safe by laying up with his second shot on the 18th than cutting over the water as most of the field had done all week.

The strategy seemed to work as he safely landed his 92-yard pitch shot onto the left side of the green, but he lagged his first putt and left himself with more than a routine tap-in, and his 3-foot par putt skidded to the right of the hole.

“I was surprised he didn’t go for it, I was shocked because … to lay it up made it difficult,” tournament host Arnold Palmer said on the NBC telecast. “The third shot is tough.”

No. 18 befuddled Pate all weekend, as he managed only three pars and two bogeys, with the other bogey coming after he sliced a fat iron shot only about 100 feet into the rough with what he called the worst shot of his career.

Quigley, playing in his 259th consecutive senior tour event, led Pate by three shots with eight to play after he eagled No. 10 and by two shots with four to play. But Quigley took a bogey on the par-3 17th when he hit into a bunker and then missed his par putt from 6 feet, and Pate took the lead by hitting his tee shot on the par-3 17th to a foot, then tapping in for birdie.

Quigley birdied No. 18 in each of the first three rounds, but his iron shot found a tiny pot bunker just to the left of the green and his bad-angle sand wedge traveled only about 6 feet. He managed to get up and down for par, but he feared that might not be enough.

“I kept thinking pars would be OK, and maybe toss in a birdie on No. 18,” Quigley said.

Quigley charged into the lead during the Sunday morning completion of the rain-delayed third round, getting three birdies in the last four holes to take a 2-shot lead into the final round.

Quigley has won nine Champions Tour events after winning less than $100,000 during a 1978-82 stay on the PGA Tour, but has yet to win a major. He said he once was so intimidated by the PGA Tour’s stars – including Pate – that he wouldn’t even warm up beside them on the practice tee because he felt inferior.

Pate, by contrast, seemed primed to succeed Jack Nicklaus as the tour’s top star in the late 1970s, but gave up playing tournament golf in 1982, during his prime just after winning the TPC, because of a left shoulder injury.

AP-ES-05-29-05 1616EDT


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