No one played better than Marc Leishman in the final round of the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Hawaii but it wasn’t enough for the Victorian to claim a fifth PGA TOUR title.
Leishman began the final round seven shots adrift of Matt Kuchar and tied for fifth but not even a bogey-free 6-under 64 – the equal best round of the day – was enough to haul in the veteran American, Leishman returning to the American mainland with consecutive top-five finishes in Hawaii and third on the FedEx Cup standings.
Leishman registered three birdies on the front-9 – including tap-in birdies at four and six – to go out in 32 and when he added another at the 11th he was 4-under on his round shortly after making the turn.
A 10-foot birdie at the 15th kept him in the mix as the tournament headed to its climax but missed chances at both 16 and 17 prevented him from eating into the three-shot lead possessed by Kuchar and Andrew Putnam for much of the back-9.
A shot from 200 yards into the par-5 18th gave Leishman a putt for eagle to close out the tournament, the straightforward birdie putt from inside three feet elevating him to 17-under par and tied for third.
Winner of the 2015 Fiji International on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, Kuchar applied the pressure on Putnam with birdies at the 15th and 16th holes and went on to claim a second win in his past three individual starts on the PGA TOUR, just the second time in his career that he has won multiple times in a single season.
Four sub-70 rounds was a nice way for Cameron Smith to begin his 2019 campaign, the two-time Australian PGA champion finishing in a tie for 22nd with a final round of 3-under 67 to be 10-under for the week.
Starting his season from the 10th tee on Thursday, Smith made the turn in 3-under thanks to four birdies in the final five holes of the front-9, eventually signing for a 4-under 66 in a positive indicator for the year ahead.
Like Smith, Matt Jones bettered 70 in each of his four rounds to end the week tied for 29th with Danny Lee the only other Australasian player to make the cut, the Kiwi dropping to a tie for 71st with a fourth round of 4-over 74 that included a quadruple-bogey 8 at the par-4 3rd and double-bogey at par-3 4th where he four-putted.
PGA Tour rookie Cameron Davis failed to qualify for the weekend with rounds of 73-71 while it was a scratchy start for Adam Scott who had three double-bogeys in his second round 75 to also miss the cut.
West Australian Curtis Luck was originally due to play at Waialae but withdrew on the Monday of the tournament. He will now make his 2019 debut at this week’s Desert Classic at La Quinta’s Stadium Course.
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Score Return; Australasian results around the world - 19 - 26th March 2019
Australasian results from around the world: Week of 19 - 26th March, 2019