The ball going where he’s aiming, putts dropping and three venues he enjoys playing has Marc Leishman primed to make a push deep into the upcoming FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Leishman dropped the third-best score of the week in the third round to move into contention at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind, his 63 putting him three shots back of leader Rory McIlroy with one round to play.
While McIlroy struggled on Sunday with a 1-over 71, Brooks Koepka shot 65 to claim his first WGC title by three shots from Webb Simpson with Leishman a further shot back in third.
Hoping to exert some kind of pressure on Koepka early in his final round, Leishman could only manage nine straight pars before racking up five birdies in the space of seven holes to start the back-9.
A winner at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia at the start of the season, Leishman’s top-three finish is projected to move him up four spots to 11th in the FedEx Cup standings and in position to claim a sizeable chunk of the $US70 million in prize money up for grabs.
“It's hopefully going to be a big month of golf and this is a good way to start it,” Leishman said following his final round of 3-under 67.
“It's just nice to see a few putts go in and a few shots going where I'm looking.
“I hadn't been playing terrible but I haven't been playing like that.
“It's nice to stand over an iron shot and feel like you're actually going to hit a really good shot. I was happy with that. Excited for the Playoffs now.
“It wasn't a win, but still a really good finish and will definitely give me confidence going into the three playoff events at two courses I love.
“Really enjoy playing Liberty National, I've never been to Medinah, but I love Chicago. And Atlanta,
I finally had a decent year there last year.”
On the back of his best finish at the British Open there were plenty of positives too for Cameron Smith.
With the top 70 in the FedEx Cup to progress past the first week of the playoffs to the BMW Championship, Smith’s tie for 12th at the St Jude Invitational is projected to move him from 85th to 73rd in the standings.
Crediting a sharpened short game for his form turnaround, Smith is confident his improved results can continue in the weeks to come.
“I feel like my game is coming back to where it needs to be,” Smith said.
“I feel really confident with my putter and typically when I feel good with my putter, the rest of my game just kind of comes around.
“It has been a bit of a frustrating year. I've had a long middle of the season there, couldn't really get much rolling.
“I was working hard and nothing was kind of going my way. I think that's just golf sometimes, you never really know what it's going to throw at you.
“Keep grinding through it and the results will always be around the corner.”
Birdies at the 15th and 17th holes saw Adam Scott post his best round of the week on Sunday to move up to 40th, level with fellow Queenslander Jason Day who had three birdies and three bogeys in his even-par round of 70.
On the PGA TOUR’s concurrent Barracuda Championship veteran Robert Allenby was the only Aussie to feature in all four rounds of the modified Stableford format finishing in a tie for 67th.
WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational
TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
3 Marc Leishman 69-69-63-67—268 $US602,000
T12 Cameron Smith 65-68-73-68—274 $143,625
T40 Adam Scott 70-68-74-67—279 $74,000
T40 Jason Day 72-69-68-70—279 $74,000
Montreux G&CC, Reno, Nevada
T67 Robert Allenby +5/+7/-2/+2/+12 $7,175
MC Cameron Davis -3/+9/+6
MC Rod Pampling 0/+3/+3
MC Curtis Luck +4/-2/+2
MC John Senden -3/+5/+2
Headlines at a glance
Davis, Lonard back to legendary form
Golfing legends Rodger Davis and Peter Lonard have won the Brisbane Legends Pro-Am with rounds of 2-under 70 in a star-studded day at Brisbane Golf Cl...
Why Adam Scott is the man Team USA fear most
In form and desperate to win.
Woods: Koepka to bring fire to Royal Melbourne
Captain Tiger Woods will turn to his No.1-ranked player Brooks Koepka to bring both fire and ice as Team USA seek to continue their Presidents Cup dom...