Questions For Justin Leonard - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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Questions For Justin Leonard

After hanging on to win the FedEx Classic by a shot, Leonard reflected on fear, weightlifting and diapers

SI: IS IT TOUGH PLAYING WITH SUCH A BIG LEAD?

JL: LEADING WIRE-TO-WIRE IS A DRAIN. THAT'S WHY I DID A FLOP AFTER HOLING THAT PUTT ON 18. IT WAS A RELIEF.

SI: You started with an eight-shot lead on Sunday, but David Toms's 63 made it interesting.

JL: It would have been really ugly if I hadn't made the putt on the last hole. David made me work for it.

SI: Did you have an uh-oh moment?

JL: When David eagled 16 and I didn't birdie the hole, that was an uh-oh moment. I thought, I need to make two good pars on the last two holes. As it turned out, I only needed a par and a bogey.

SI: Last week Kenny Perry said he fought the fear of becoming the guy who blew a big lead at Colonial. Did you have similar thoughts?

JL: I had a few of those creep into the back of my mind, certainly.

SI: Your daughters are 20 months and two months old. How does traveling with the family affect you?

JL: It's great. I love having them here, and I love being a dad.

SI: So not too many big nights on Beale Street this week?

JL: No, Amanda [my wife] and I didn't do any of that. We keep to our routine: Go get dinner, get everybody bathed and to bed and then enjoy some quiet time.

SI: Do you change diapers?

JL: I have. I don't mind. The kids don't know if you shot 65 or 85, and they don't care.

SI: On the week you hit a lot of greens and two-putted for pars. Could that approach help you at Pinehurst in the U.S. Open?

JL: I'm going to have to do that at Pinehurst to be successful. I think everybody will. That's what you have to do on some of these toughened holes as well.

SI: Was your mind-set going into the final round, Just make pars?

JL: I wasn't trying to just make pars. I went for some birdie putts, on 11 and 12, but they didn't go in.

SI: Has the extra muscle you've added this year helped you?

JL: It has helped me hit it farther, and who wouldn't like that?

SI: Have you ever had as big a lead going into the last round, and have you ever had such a near-letdown?

JL: No, this was uncharted territory. Going to bed every night with a five- to eight-shot lead is not the norm for me.

SI: You haven't played that well the last few weeks. Was this a surprise?

JL: I've been working hard trying to get the rust off, and it's paying off. I want to keep going and carry this over. --Art Stricklin

KEY STAT

0

Number of three-putts by Justin Leonard while winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic.

COLOR PHOTO

SCOTT HALLERAN/GETTY IMAGES (LEONARD)

KNOCKOUT

On Sunday, Leonard missed 13 greens but still won for the 10th time.