The old Justin Leonard would have taken a pass on the 2002 WorldCom Classic, a tournament in which he had missed the cut the two previous times he'd played. "I tried not to come," Leonard admitted on Sunday, after winning at Harbour Town by a stroke over Heath Slocum. Truth is, Leonard made the trip to Hilton Head Island, S.C., only because his wife of three months, Amanda, is as spontaneous as Leonard is predictable. Amanda had heard that Harbour Town was the place to have a good time the week after the Masters, and she wanted to check it out. So just as she talked Justin into running the White Rock Marathon in Dallas in December, she talked him into giving the tournament another chance, with the condition that if he didn't play well, they didn't have to come back. The Leonards will definitely be returning.
Marriage has been an eye-opener for Justin, who was named one of the 25 most eligible bachelors in the world in 1997 by Cosmopolitan magazine. "After traveling with Amanda this year, I don't know what I did when I traveled alone," he says. "I had to be bored out of my mind." Nothing is boring back home in Dallas, either. Remember the Mediterranean-style house that Justin moved into last spring in the exclusive Highland Park neighborhood? Amanda has decided it needs a woman's touch. "How should I say this?" she says. "I'm changing the furniture a bit." That's not all that's been rearranged. "I also have a new caddie [Brent Everson], new irons, a new driver and a new putter," Leonard said after hanging on to win despite a birdie-less, two-over-par 73 on Sunday.
As the final round concluded, Amanda was already in position behind the 18th green when her husband approached, needing a par for his first victory in an event other than the Texas Open—he won that tournament in 2000 and 2001—since the '98 Players Championship. Amanda paced nervously until Amy Mickelson, whose husband, Phil, was in the penultimate pairing and about to finish third for the fourth time in five starts, called out, "Come here, I'll break you in on how to do this." Leonard got his par and his seventh Tour win, and Amanda met him by the green and gave him a victory hug.
The WorldCom was like a Tour event before the arrival of Tiger Woods, back when Leonard, the 1997 British Open champion, was considered one of the game's up-and-comers. He'll turn 30 on June 15, and with the Tour turning into a power game, the future for a relatively short knocker such as Leonard—he ranks 103rd in driving distance, at 274.2 yards—has looked about as bright as the Montreal Expos'. Aside from the Texas Open, Leonard has had one bright shining moment in the last 3� years. At the '99 Ryder Cup, he holed the unlikely putt that sealed an even unlikelier U.S. victory, but his come-from-behind rally that day had as much to do with Jose Mar�a Olaz�bal's poor play as it did with Leonard's magical putting. Leonard, though, has never been lacking in one critical area: competitiveness. "I want to be among the elite players," he said on Sunday. "I just don't feel like I've been there these last couple of years."
Maybe that's something that will change too.