D.J. Trahan overtakes faltering Leonard to win Hope Classic

D.J. Trahan
Harry How/Getty Images
Trahan's five birdies on the front nine put him back in contention Sunday.

PALM DESERT, Calif. (AP) — D.J. Trahan has been eyeing a farm in his native South Carolina, and with his biggest paycheck in his pocket, he may reward himself.

"I enjoy hunting and I have a little piece of land that I've been looking at. I wasn't going to allow myself to partake in that until I felt I deserved it," he said. "So now I might do that. We'll see."

Trahan had just wrapped up his most lucrative day on the PGA Tour, earning $914,000 for winning the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic on Sunday. He came from four strokes back to shoot a 7-under 65 and overtake Justin Leonard, who had a 39 on the last nine holes and shot 72 to finish three strokes behind in second.

The victory was the second for the 27-year-old Trahan, a former Clemson All-American heading into his fourth season on the tour. His first win was at Madison, Miss., in 2006.

He finished the five-day Hope at 26-under 334, and beat out former British Open champion Leonard, a 35-year-old with 11 tour titles.

Outplaying someone with Leonard's credentials made the victory even more special, Trahan said.

"I totally did not expect Justin to fold at any time, and why should you expect him to? He's got a fantastic track record, a Ryder Cup, a major championship," Trahan said. "You know the guy's clutch and he's a great player.

"So to have run him down today and win the golf tournament means a lot."

Leonard was disappointed, of course, but encouraged as well. Last year, he missed the cut in the first six events - including the Hope - before finally getting his game going in July.

He began this season by tying for eighth in the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.

"I get some perspective in the fact that at this time last year, I was pretty lost," he said. "That gives me a bit of comfort, but still it only takes a little bit of the sting out of it, not all of it."

Trahan knew heading into the final round of the 90-hole tournament that he faced a challenge in overcoming Leonard's four-shot lead.

"You certainly don't feel particularly optimistic about it when you're playing against a guy like Justin Leonard," Trahan said. "I wasn't playing against a rookie who was in the lead for the first time.

"I don't know how many times he's won on tour, but it's definitely more than me."

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