Third top-five finish has Leishman on track for US Open

Marc Leishman on the ninth hole of the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Marc Leishman on the ninth hole of the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

MARC Leishman is looking to use the considerable momentum from his third top-five finish of the year to boost his bid for automatic entry into next month’s US Open.

The Warrnambool professional finished tied for third in the Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas yesterday — his second top-three result this year.

Leishman carded a two-under 68 in the final round at TPC Four Seasons Resort to finish four shots behind first-time winner, American Brendon Todd. It could have been a significantly different story. Leishman started with consecutive birdies to grab a share of the lead and then birdies at the seventh and eighth holes had him on top of the leaderboard heading into the back nine after going out in four-under 31.

But bogeys at the 11th, 13th and 15th holes derailed his bid for a second tour victory.

He birdied the 16th to ease the pain.

“The front nine was exactly how I wanted to play,” he said.

“But I hit a few bad shots when I didn’t need them at all. Obviously I was pretty disappointed but it was a good week.”

Leishman, who missed two consecutive half-way cuts leading into last week’s The Players Championship before finishing tied for 23, said he was pleased to find some form.

“Third is still a pretty good week, obviously I would have preferred to win but it’s good to get back in the mix. It’s been a few months since I’ve been in that position.”

Leishman said he felt his game was improving leading into the event.

“I worked harder this week and played really for three-and-a-half days.”

It was the first time this year Leishman had carded four consecutive rounds under par — starting with a four-under 66 before stringing together three 68s.

“Obviously the goal every week is to go out and win. But to win you need to give yourself a chance on Sunday and I did that this week but I didn’t finish it off.

“It’s pretty rare to win with 150 guys most weeks and there being only one winner.”

Leishman is in the middle of a hectic stretch. After playing nine events in 17 weeks leading into The Players Championship he is playing four in consecutive weeks. He will tee up at the Crowne Plaza Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas, later this week and then The Memorial at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio.

The 30-year-old needs to be in the world’s top 60 ranked players after the invitational to secure an automatic spot in the field for the year’s second major, the US Open, at Pinehurst in North Carolina. He was 71st before yesterday’s good result.

“Hopefully a good finish next week and I will be up there,” he said. If not, he will be forced to pre-qualify.

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