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Leaney Joins Elite Company With Sixth WA Open Crown

(Photo: PGA of Australia)
Veteran Stephen Leaney has joined an elite club with a dramatic win at the WA Open in Perth, the 48-year-old now one of only a handful of golfers to have won the same tournament six times.

Leaney took the title by a single shot from Callan O’Reilly after a tense back nine battle, O’Reilly narrowly missing a birdie putt at the par-5 18th that would have sent the tournament to extra time.

The West Australian native becomes the second player to claim the WA Open six times after Terry Gale amassed the same number of titles between 1972 and 1990.

Leaney’s six victories span a considerably longer period than Gale, however, his first coming as an amateur in 1991 and his fifth in 2004.

On the PGA Tour only five golfers have won the same event six times or more, Tiger Woods managing the feat at four seperate tournaments while Sam Snead has done it at two different events.

Jack Nicklaus and Harry Vardon are the only golfers to achieve the feat at a major, Nicklaus the Masters and Vardon the Open, while Alec Ross also won the North and South tournament, considerd by many to be a major at the time, six times between 1902 and 1914.

A member at Royal Perth for several years, Leaney took the lead on day one of the tournament though was one behind O’Reilly at the start of the final round.

While the New South Welshman increased his lead to two with a birdie at the third Leaney soon reeled him in with back to back gains of his own at four and five.

The West Australian went ahead for the first time at the eighth when he made a birdie to O’Reilly’s bogey and increased the margin to two with his third straight birdie at the 10th.

Both players dropped shots at the 14th then O’Reilly cut the margin to just one with a birdie at the 16th but the combatants matched pars at the final two holes to give Leaney the win.

It was an impressive week for the former European Tour player who opened with a stunning 64 Thursday and played consistent golf the rest of the week with scores of 71-69-69.

While no doubt disappointed not to come away with the crown it was also a positive week for O’Reilly who has struggled since joining the professional ranks in 2013.

His previous best finish on the PGA Tour of Australasia also came in Western Australia when he was T5 at the WA PGA last year.

A brilliant final round 66 from Michael Sim saw him take third place outright with Daniel Fox making it three West Australians in the top four with his solo fourth place finish on 11-under.

Impressive amateur Zach Murray matched Sim’s 66 to finish in a share of fifth while defending champion Curtis Luck also signed for a 6-under score to lift himself to T16.

SIGNATURE HOLES - 7TH AT SHELLY BEACH:

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