SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Justin Leonard is trying to break a tie with Arnold Palmer in the Texas Open.
Leonard won the event for the third time last year at La Cantera Golf Club to match the tournament record set by Palmer.
“There is something about this course and this tournament which has always just caught my eye,” Leonard said Wednesday, a day before the start of play in the Fall Series event. “I can’t really explain it, but I know when things are going bad or I get in a tight spot, I can fall back on the good memories I have there.”
The 78-year history of the Texas Open has seen everything from top champions to upset winners and record 72-hole scores. But it has never seen a four-time winner, something Leonard hopes to achieve.
The Texan outlasted Sweden’s Jesper Parnevik in the longest playoff in more than a half-century last year to join Palmer as the only three-time Texas Open champion. Now, riding high from his recent Ryder Cup team triumph, Leonard looks to stand alone as the in the event that began in 1922.
“I would have to say, that was probably the most satisfying and emotional last year, just because what I had gone through,” said Leonard, a former University of Texas star from Dallas who also won in 2000 and 2001.
There are eight major Championship winners in the field, including Leonard anmd 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson, along with nine 2008 PGA Tour winners.
They will face a tough hurdle going against Leonard.
If Leonard doesn’t win, it should be somebody who shoots a very low score. The PGA Tour 72-hole record was set by Tommy Armour in 2003 at 26-under 254.
“If the wind blows, it will probably take 15 to 18 under,” Chad Campbell said of the winning score. “If it doesn’t it will be 20 or something.”
Beginning next year, the event will be played in May. The tournament also is set to move to the TPC San Antonio in 2010.