BEAVERTON, Ore. - When Justin Leonard signed with Nike Golf at the start of the season, he felt that Nike Golf's innovative equipment would help him return to prominence on the PGA Tour. Two wins later, and with a nearly full set of Nike Golf equipment, including a new Nike milled proto-type putter, his belief remains accurate.
Leonard captured his 10th career victory and second since switching to Nike Golf equipment at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn. With the winning combination of his Ignite 410 driver and the exciting new One Platinum ball, Leonard averaged 292.6 yards in driving distance bettering his season average of 278.6 by 14 yards. This represents a five percent increase in his driving distance. Leonard started using the One Platinum ball at the Byron Nelson Classic and has used it since.
"I think the equipment change that I made is starting to show," said Leonard. "I can't say enough about Nike, playing the golf ball, the Nike One Platinum. Freddie Jacobson yesterday was like 'you are hitting the ball a lot farther.' It is also a matter of getting the right equipment in your hands. You know, this is only going to give me more confidence in what they are doing and I got to tell you, this Platinum ball is pretty awesome."
Further proof that the Ignite and One Platinum make a hot pair, Tiger Woods has won three times with his Ignite 460 and the One Platinum.
During the first three rounds, it seemed as if Leonard was playing a different golf course than his competitors as he shredded the revamped layout of the Tournament Players Club at Southwind by posting a 54-hole total of 17-under par to carry an eight-stroke lead. In the final round, Leonard was able to dodge David Toms' 7-under-par round of 63 to win by one stroke.
Leonard also demonstrated a stunning exhibition of precise approach shots into the greens. Using Nike Forged Blade irons, Leonard tied for fourth in greens in regulation with a rate of 66.7 percent, exceeding his current season average of 65.2 percent. Rounding out his bag is his Ignite T60 and his Nike Golf forged wedges in both 54 and 58 degrees.
Leonard is known as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour. The Nike milled proto-type putter performed harmoniously with Leonard's touch as he made 18 birdies during the first three rounds and had no three-putts during the entire tournament.
Leonard joins another Nike Tour Staff star, Tiger Woods as one of five PGA Tour players who have won multiple events in 2005. With his eight-stroke lead going into the final round, Leonard also posted a new season record of having the largest 54-hole lead.
Nike Golf, based in Beaverton, Oregon, designs and markets golf equipment, apparel, balls, footwear, bags and accessories worldwide. In 2005, Nike Golf's Tour Staff have accumulated five PGA Tour victories and 15 top-10 finishes. LPGA player Grace Park has recorded two top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour so far.