Leon 'loving every minute of it'

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

Mark Leon didn't have time to let the frustration that has been compromising his golf game get to him yesterday.

The Brampton native was too busy making birdies all around the storied Mississaugua Golf and Country Club.

Nothing like nine of them in the second round of medal play at the 102nd Canadian Men's Amateur Championship to shake away the summer doldrums.

It added up to a stellar six-under-par 65 to go with an opening-round 71 and place him as the top seed of the 64 players who advance to the match-play portion of the event beginning today.

"I had big expectations coming into the year and I think some of those expectations really killed me," said Leon, whose two-round total of 136 over the 7,120-yard layout made him co-medallist with Kris Wasylowich of Lethbridge, Alta. "I've hit it well, but my mindset hasn't been very good on the golf course. I've been getting too frustrated.

"This week I just kind of came out and tried to stay calm, relax and see what happens. And this is much better."

Much better indeed for the 24-year-old who had legitimate reasons to think big this summer.

After making it to the quarter-finals of the U.S. Amateur a year ago, Leon returned to Penn State University as a mini-celebrity. He has struggled to return to that form, however, until the past two days at Mississaugua.

"Doing so well (in the U.S. Amateur) changed my outlook on amateur golf," said Leon, who has an exemption into the 2006 event next week at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.

"I was going to turn pro last fall but I had so much fun, I decided to stay amateur and I'm loving every minute of it."

Another player who has delayed turning pro, defending champion Richard Scott of Kingsville, Ont., will once again take a tougher route to match play.

A triple bogey on his final hole yesterday combined with a quadruple earlier in the round was salvaged by five birdies for a 76. But his 36-hole score of 145 has him tied for 30th.

Unlike a year ago, when Scott was seeded 52nd, he won't catch anyone by surprise this time around. Though the former Georgia Bulldog was disappointed with his effort yesterday, he's ready to play to his strengths.

"At least I'm making enough birdies to minimalize my mistakes," said Scott, who is seeking a third Amateur title to go with his 2003 and 2005 crowns.

"I like match play. Even (yesterday) I think I might have beat a lot of people. The outcome is not as negative when you have a bad hole and I find I am not as relaxed or free when I play stroke play as I am in match play."


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