It was a brave fight but Erin Hills eventually got the better of Marc Leishman, the lone Australian to qualify for the weekend at the 117th U.S. Open.
A brilliant opening round 68 put Leishman in great position with three rounds to go and a battling second round of even par kept him in the hunt, just three behind the lead with 36 holes remaining.
The laid back Victorian found his mojo on the opening nine holes of the third round and was within one shot of the lead when he holed a lengthy putt at the 8th, his third birdie of the day.
At 7-under for the tournament he was in position to make a charge but the US Open is a tournament inclined to take more than it gives and at the 12th hole Leishman paid the ultimate penalty for a wide drive.
Unable to advance the ball out of the long fescue with his second, he made a momentum killing double bogey then dropped another on his way to the clubhouse to sign for a second consecutive 72.
On a day when others had gone forward that made the task on Sunday Herculean, Leishman trailing by eight and needing something special to have any chance.
With the predicted winds finally arriving for the final round that became unlikely and as is often the case when players try to press at the big events, Leishman went backwards.
With five dropped shots in his opening nine holes he fell out of red figures for the first time all week although three back nine birdies against a lone bogey eased the pain somewhat.
His eventual 75 saw him post 1-under for the week, good enough for a share of 27th but not his best U.S. Open result, that coming at Oakmont when T18 last year.
While not the finish he wanted Leishman’s performance at Erin Hills confirms he has all the tools required to capture one of the game’s most coveted titles.
Most encouraging was his good scoring over the first two and a half days despite not having his best game.
He was less than his best, particularly off the tee, yet remained a legitimate contender for much of the week.
That bodes well for The Open Championship next month, a tournament where Leishman has looked most comfortable among the major events.
Also keen to get to Royal Birkdale will be Adam Scott and Jason Day after both missed the cut at Erin Hills.
Both will be more than a little peeved at their play in Wisconsin, Day finishing ahead of only a handful of players courtesy of an opening 79 while Scott never found his rhythm with scores of 72-75.
On a course offering up more sub-par scores than almost any previous US Open, those numbers were never going to be enough and both will have redemption on their minds when they arrive in England in six weeks’ time.
Qualifiers Nick Flanagan and Wade Ormsby also missed the weekend, Ormsby done in by two late double bogeys in the opening round.
The South Australian, playing his first career major, signed for consecutive rounds of 75 while Flanagan matched Day’s two-day total with scores of 75-79.
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