MAPGA gives a big honor to a small champion

GOLF

November 24, 1991|By JOHN STEWART

In an age of record-breakers, regardless of the sport, it is amazing to find one of 1908 vintage still intact and likely to remain so.

When Fred McLeod won the 1908 U.S. Open championship, he stood 5 feet 4 and weighed 108 pounds. To this day, the Scotsman is the smallest player to have won this crown, and, with the exception of Ben Hogan or Gary Player, both several inches taller and 40 pounds heavier, no one has even come close to his measurements.

Although he either won or was a serious contender in every major golf championship from 1903-1930, McLeod is probably best remembered in this area as the head professional at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, a position he held officially for 64 years. He retired in 1967 and was the club's pro emeritus until his death in 1975.

In recognition of this meritorious career, the Middle Atlantic Professional Golfers' Association honored McLeod with posthumous induction into its Hall of Fame during the organization's annual awards dinner at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel last night.

A native of North Berwick, Scotland, McLeod came to this country in 1903 at the age of 21. He worked as a golf professional at Rockford (Ill.) CC, Midlothian CC in suburban Chicago and at St. Louis CC before coming to Columbia in 1912.

For that span, he won several sectional titles, the Western PGA championship twice, and was second in the Western Open, in addition to his U.S. Open crown.

That was achieved at Myopia Hunt Club in South Hamilton, Mass., as he defeated Willie Smith in an 18-hole playoff, 77-83, after they had tied at 322 for 72 holes. The winner's share of the purse? $300.

He continued to compete while at Columbia. In 1919, he lost the PGA Championship final to Jim Barnes, 6 and 5; in 1920, he won the North and South Open for the second time; and when the U.S. Open was held at Columbia CC in 1921, Barnes won with 289, followed by McLeod and Walter Hagen at 298. The !c champion received $500; the runners-up each collected $250.

Other highlights were to follow. Later that summer, he defeated the formidable J.H. Taylor of Great Britain, 1-up, in the first organized match between American and British golf professionals, the forerunner of the Ryder Cup. There were victories in the 1922 St. Petersburg Open, and the 1927 Maryland Open, before club duties curtailed his tournament play.

An avid golfer all his life, he had his eighth career hole-in-one during a round of 84 at Columbia CC when he was 88 years old. Against a par of 35-3570, his ringer score at Columbia was 21-1839, "much of it using eight clubs that looked as though they belonged in a museum," retired Sun sports editor Bob Maisel noted in a McLeod column.

Another honoree last night was Bruce Lehnhard, head pro at Lake of the Woods in Locust Grove, Va., who was saluted as the MAPGA Player of the Year for the second straight time.

Although his accomplishments included three major titles -- head pro, section and match play -- it took the season-ending match-play event to determine the top player. Lehnhard clinched the award with a quarterfinal triumph, a level his two closest pursuers, Mike West of Farmington CC, Charlottesville, Va., and Bob Boyd, Woodmont CC, Rockville, failed to reach.

Lehnhard, who celebrates his 49th birthday today, has been a member of the PGA for 24 years and has served at Lake of the Woods for the past 10. He has his sights set on a competitive 1992, as a high finish in the recent club pro championship earned him a berth in next summer's PGA Championship. Beyond that is talk of trying to qualify for the Senior PGA Tour when he becomes eligible a year from now.

Other MAPGA honorees last night were: Rod Thompson, Kenwood CC, Golf Professional of the Year; Frank Laber, Longview GC, Bill Strausbaugh Award for club relations; Coleman Plecker, Manor CC, Horton Smith Award for education; Robert Fikac, Caves Valley GC, Assistant Professional of the Year; Robert McIver, Farmington CC, Teacher of the Year; John Lazzell, Rocky Point GC, Junior Leader of the Year; Mike Ahrnsbrak, Shenandoah Valley GC (resort), Thomas Wine, Brandermill CC (private), and Mark Herrmann, Hog Neck GC (public), Merchandisers of the Year.

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