The Anti-Tiger

With his old-fashioned style of play, Dallas native Justin Leonard is unlike any other young player in pro golf today.

The storm has missed the Metroplex, and sunny weather is spreading all over Dallas’ Royal Oaks Country Club. Justin Leonard, however, is just not in the mood to play. To keep up with the longer-hitting stars of the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour and pull himself out of a recent slump, Texas’ best golfer has been working out full-bore with a personal trainer. “I’m beat up,” the 28-year-old admits with a rueful half-smile as we settle into a table in the clubhouse dining room. “My biceps are screaming. I probably couldn’t even get the club above my shoulder.”

Boyishly handsome with a dimpled chin and close-set, green-gray eyes, every dark hair in place, Leonard is wearing a navy Polo windbreaker and matching rain pants with an oatmeal-colored golf shirt. If he looks like he stepped out of a fashion ad, that befits his endorsement contract with Ralph Lauren. If his look is decidedly retro, that’s equally fitting. In the era of the young, New Economy, cap-worn-backward golfer, Leonard is the old school poster boy. In a way he is the anti-Tiger Woods, the last of the great traditionalists. His breakthrough victory came in the 1997 British Open, a tournament that perfectly suits his old-fashioned game as much as his old-fashioned persona. “I just wish I could play golf in a tie and pull out some hickory shafts and get a mashie niblick,” he once told an interviewer, “but I don’t think my equipment company makes any of those clubs.”

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