Marc Leishman – so close to a second Travelers title – photo Getty Images
Marc Leishman has fallen one short of a potential second Travelers Championship victory after a brilliant final round of 64 at the TPC River Highlands in Connecticut left him alone in third place and just one behind a playoff between eventual winner, Harris English, and runner-up Kramer Hickok, that pair requiring eight extra holes before a winner was decided.
Leishman began the final round four shots behind the lead held by three-time winner of the event Bubba Watson and a man yet to win on the PGA Tour, Hickok.
Just as he had nine years ago when winning this event to claim his first title on the PGA Tour, Leishman put together a final round that would sweep him into the lead and although English and Hickok would birdie their final hole to move ahead, it was another great week for the 37-year old Victorian.
Leishman knew he might well be one short when he failed to birdie the 17th and 18th to get to 13 under and so it would transpire with English holing from 30 feet at the last and Hickok from eight feet to edge clear of Leishman and head into a playoff.
Leishman produced a final round of 62 in 2012 to come from six shots back and talked after his round today of the benefit coming from behind provides on a course like the TPC River Highlands.
“Yeah, I think you can have the lead after 54 holes, but generally by the time you tee off you’re not leading,“ said Leishman. “So that’s kind of an interesting thing about this course. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 are all birdie holes, so if you get out two, three hours before the leaders you can get ahead of them early and put a little bit pressure on them, make them have to push.
“I mean, I’ve been close to the lead here and have done exactly what nearly everyone else has and struggled, and every time I’ve seemed to have played well here I’ve come from behind. I guess you play a lot freer when you’re behind. It’s just, yeah, it’s nice to be able to do that and have a little less pressure.”
Leishman knew he likely needed a birdie at the last to force the issue and although he found the front bunker he was not unhappy about his strategy in attacking a flag tucked just over the bunker.
“Yeah, I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to hit a sand wedge to the middle of the green and try and two-putt. Trying to make a 30-footer. I wanted to hit that close, possibly make it. Needed three more yards.
“I can live with myself a lot easier if I go for it than if I maybe play a shot — a more conservative shot and not make birdie that way. I would rather do what I did. I would rather make birdie obviously.”
Jason Day was the next best of the Australians after a second consecutive round of 70 left him in a share of 10th place.
Day again struggled with the back issue that has plagued him for so much of his career and although he seemed a little freer today than was the case yesterday it is clearly still restricting him, both mentally and physically.
Adam Scott only just made the cut on Friday after holing a birdie putt at his 36th hole to secure a place in the weekend field. He made the most of that by producing rounds of 67 and 67 over the weekend to climb to 13th, his equal best finish in his last nine starts on the PGA Tour.
Lucas Herbert continues to play events on the PGA Tour despite not being a member. He was forced to Monday qualify for this event and did so by claiming one of the five available places in the field then took advantage by finishing in a share of 19th.
Cameron Smith struggled from his opening bogey today and eventually finished with a round of 74 on a golf course where low scores were the norm. He finished 30th after beginning the day tied for 3rd and just one behind the lead.
Matt Jones was 36th and Cameron Percy 56th.