Putting woes deny Leishman PGA victory

MARC Leishman came within centimetres of forcing a playoff in the $US6.1 million US PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines yesterday.

The Warrnambool professional needed an eagle at the par-five last to tie with American Scott Stallings but his wedge from about 90 metres narrowly missed.

He finished one shot behind Stallings in a five-way tie for second — his second top-five result this year. It was the second time in five years he has finished second in the event in California.

Leishman was tied for the lead during the final round but a bogey on the par-four 12th hurt his chances.

Leishman, who led the field in putting in Hawaii two weeks ago, couldn’t hide his annoyance at coming up short in his quest for a second tour victory. 

One consolation is that he has likely sewn up a spot in the lucrative World Golf Championships Match Play event next month. That $US9 million event is open to the top 64 available players in the world as at February 10. Leishman was 68th in the Official World Golf Rankings before yesterday’s tie for second.

“I am a bit disappointed,” Leishman said.

“I hit the ball well enough all week to win by quite a few but just couldn’t hole the putts. A couple of putts here and there go in and it’s a different story but second is still good.

“It is something to build on, a fifth and a second this year so hopefully trending in the right direction for next week.”

Among those tied with Leishman was countryman Jason Day, who also held the lead at various stages, but couldn’t hang on.

Stallings claimed his third career win on the US PGA tour with a final round four-under-68 lifting him to nine-under 279.

Day (68) and Leishman (71) had to settle for a five-way tie with South Korea’s K.J. Choi (66), Canadian Graham DeLaet (68) and American Pat Perez (70). Day, consistently one of the best putters on the tour, ranked a rare 30th in the field for strokes gained putting while Leishman led the field in greens in regulation but was 66th of the 73 players who made it to Sunday on the greens.

For world No. 10 Day, a three-putt on the opening hole in the final round and a cruel lip out trying to save par on the 17th stuck in his craw most.

The 26-year-old now has six runner-up finishes and three third places on the US Tour with just the one victory in 2010.

“I played phenomenal golf but I missed so many putts out there,” Day said. “I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies but they just wouldn’t go.

“It wasn’t the right timing for a bogey on 17.

“The lip out was a little harsh so if there is disappointment it is that I didn’t have my best putting week but I am excited for my next start at Pebble Beach.

“Once again I am close and moving forward. It is a good start to the season to finish second.

“If I keep putting myself in these positions hopefully the ball will drop my way and I’ll have a couple of wins this year, maybe more.” with AAP


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