Leseur achieves qualifying dream
Kenny Leseur rallied in the final round of the Bermuda Championship Local Qualifier at Port Royal Golf Course yesterday to become one of the youngest players to qualify for a PGA Tour event.
Playing with a maturity beyond his 15 years, the amateur kept it steady while others came unstuck in the blustery conditions on the way to shooting the lowest round of two-over-par 73 that included two birdies and four bogeys.
It was enough to earn Leseur a tie for first along with overnight leader Michael Sims and fellow amateur Jarryd Dillas at five-over-par 147 for the championship. All three qualified for the upcoming Bermuda Championship, also to be held at Port Royal.
Leseur, the International Junior Golf Academy student, is now poised to join a small group of players to have competed in a PGA Tour event, which includes China's Guan Tianlang, who competed at the 2013 Masters, Zurich Classic and Byron Nelson Championship at age 14 as an amateur.
“It's really, really special,” Leseur said.
“When I started golf, I had no clue I was going to able to get on the PGA Tour. Every young golfer's goal is to get on the Tour, but at 15 it's really astonishing.”
Leseur started the final round three shots shy of the third qualifying spot and seven off the lead. He executed his game plan superbly in the trying conditions to achieve his objective with strokes to spare.
“I knew three shots could be made up in one hole, especially on the back nine here,” he added. “I knew it was windy and nobody was going to shoot under par today, so I just tried to be even par.
“I thought, ‘keep it in play, don't make doubles and grind out as much as you can' because you know everyone else is going to make mistakes and you can't make any mistakes. That's what I did really well today.
“I just stuck to my game plan and didn't get frustrated and I'm just glad that I didn't let it get over my head and just kept focused and kept my head down.”
Overnight leader Sims and Dillas battled neck and neck over the 18 holes, with the lead changing hands on five occasions.
Dillas held a one-shot lead over the rest of the field heading to the final hole, which he squandered after making bogey. Sims tapped in for par to complete the three-way tie for first.
“I left that five-footer about a foot short,” Dillas said. “My hands were shaking a little bit, you know what's on the line. That's what makes it tough, but what also makes it fun and that's why we play.”
Dillas carded eight over par, which included one birdie, five bogeys and two double bogeys.
“It was brutal out there,” he added. “That back nine, 15, 16, 17, were just really tough holes.
“Anything in the 70s today was going to be a good score, so with that you just have to stay patient and not try and force something because that's when mistakes happen.
“Qualification feels great. I'm glad it's over with all the hard work up here today.”
Sims, whose final-round nine over par, which included one birdie, six bogeys and two double bogeys, was delighted to have qualified for a PGA Tour event after years trying.
He said: “I went to Qualifying School when I was 21 so this is 19 years later I'm playing in my first Tour event after all these years of chasing it. It's a dream come true.
“Today was just all about being patient. We knew the scores were going to be high and I had to further complicate things on 17 [double bogey].
“But no highs, no lows. Just kind of keep plugging along and just get the job done, that's what I did. I'm just excited and it is a dream come true.”