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Disappointing End For Leonard

Justin Leonard wasn't happy about losing a three-way playoff in Sunday's British Open.

But he knew that Jean Van de Velde, who blew the tournament with a triple bogey on the final hole, was even more depressed.

"As I bad as I feel, he feels worse," said Leonard, who won the Open two years ago.

"That's tough to go through to have a lead in the championship at the last hole and not be able to win. It has to be a sick feeling for him and through the playoff as well."

Leonard thought he had blown his chance as Van de Velde stepped to the 18th tee three shots ahead.

"I thought I had lost but I knew I had to stick around and went to one of the little trailers behind the scorers' tent," Leonard said. "The first thing I saw was Jean hitting the ball into the creek."

"There's not a whole lot you can learn from that other than he got himself in a position to win the tournament."

Leonard and Van de Velde ending up losing in the playoff to Paul Lawrie of Scotland, who had finished two hours earlier. If Leonard was dismayed by his performance, his two-over-par finish in the four-hole playoff upset him more.

"Basically, I lost the British Open twice on one day which is twice as hard to take," said Leonard, who triumphed at Troon in 1997.

In both regulation and the playoff, Leonard hit his second shot on 18 into the Barry's Burn, the creek in front of the green.

The first time, he thought he needed a birdie to have any chance and hit a 3-wood from the rough to the water.

"Got up and down for a bogey," he said. "At the time I didn't think it mattered a whole lot."

As it turned out, if he had made par, he would have won the title Van de Velde's horrendous 18th only put Leonard in playoff.

"It was pretty much chaos," Leonard said of the playoff in which all three players missed the fairway and the green on the first two holes as rain trickled down.

"We were all pretty embarrassed. To get it up and down for a bogey and up and down for a bogey at 16 and I still found myself in it."

"I had a good putt at 17 from 40-50 feet which could easily have gone in and then at 18 I hit a great tee shot and had a little bit of an uphill lie."

"I got a little bit behind it, hit is a hair fat, just enough to not get it over the burn."

Lawrie, already one ahead after a birdie three at the third playoff hole, landed his second shot four feet from the flag and it was all over.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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