5 Things: Leishman battles back to win Travelers
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Here are 5 Things to take away from Marc Leishman's unlikely victory at the Travelers Championship on Sunday at the par-70 TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
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1. ON THE MARC: While finishing his round a couple of hours before the overnight leaders, Marc Leishman posted 14 under early and let those still on the course come get him.
They never did, and Leishman picked up his first PGA Tour victory behind a final-round, 8-under 62, fighting from six strokes back of overnight leaders Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis.
"I didn't think it was going to be enough," Leishman said. "Golf is a funny game, a really funny game."
Leishman is the fourth first-time champion on the PGA Tour this season, finishing one shot ahead of Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson. Leishman was the 2009 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
On Sunday, Leishman went out in 5-under 30, saved a nice par at the 10th from a greenside bunker and birdied Nos. 13, 14 and 17 coming in to vault up 19 places on the leaderboard.
He only needed 24 putts on Sunday.
Leishman's key to success?
"I just had two weeks off actually. I hardly touched the golf club," said Leishman, who didn't play at the U.S. Open or in Memphis for the St. Jude Classic.
Leishman had only one top-10 finish this season (T-3 at the Byron Nelson) and is only the second Australian to win the Travelers (Greg Norman, 1995).
Coming into the week, Leishman had made $4.8 million on the PGA Tour since he turned pro in 2005. He did have a victory on the Nationwide Tour (the 2008 WNB Golf Classic).
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2. GOOD WILL HUNTER: It's not easy to overshadow your own 9-under 61 to vault yourself 65 places up the leaderboard, but Hunter Mahan and caddie John Wood didn't mind taking a back seat to young fan David Finn in the 18th fairway.
Finn, who has mitochondrial disorder which affects his limbs and leaves him unable to speak, got a ride up the 18th courtesy of Wood, moving inside the ropes to the delight of the crowd.
“He’s totally aware of what’s going on,” Mahan said of Finn. “It was a cool moment.”
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3. CUTTING IT: Bubba Watson made it to the weekend for the first time in his last three tries (missed cuts at Memorial and U.S. Open), picking up his fifth top-5 finish in his last six tournaments (including the Tavistock Cup) where he played for money.
Watson has finished in the top 20 of all tournaments where he made the cut, with a pair of T-18s (Hyundai TOC and Zurich Classic) his worst of the year.
Watson inched toward the top of the leaderboard on Sunday, but was stymied when he went into the water at the 14th (he did manage to save par), and couldn't get anything going over his final four holes - including a missed birdie putt from about 10 feet on 18 that would have tied Leishman.
Watson had five birdies and no bogeys on Sunday in carding a 5-under 65 to finish T-2.
"Just didn't finish it off on the back," Watson said. "I made my run and just didn't kind of really have anything after that.
"I was just trying to give myself as many chances as I could. It was nice to have a couple of tap-in birdies."
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4. CHARLEY'S BOGEY FACTORY: Charley Hoffman seemingly had control of the tournament when he stepped up to the tee box at the par-4 17th hole, leading Leishman by two shots at 16 under.
And then he found the water off the tee at No. 17 and had to drop in some long rough, causing him to take long iron over the water and off the green, leaving a chip for bogey. He would need three shots to get in to post double-bogey and drop into a tie at 14 under.
After a poor drive to the right at the 18th, Hoffman put his approach into a greenside bunker, played his sand shot to about 15 feet behind the hole and couldn't drain the putt to stay in a tie for the lead. He wound up with a 4-under 66 after opening with three-straight 67s to start the tournament.
"When it's said and done, obviously a bad finish and a bad taste in my mouth, but you learn from it," Hoffman said. "Any time you put yourself in contention, you learn from that."
Hoffman has struggled a bit this season, picking up only one top 10 (T-8, RBC Heritage) and four top-25s in 13 starts. He had only two top-10s in 2011, coming after a 2010 season that saw him post a victory and 5 top-10 finishes.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: A week after a magnificent performance at the U.S. Open, Michael Thompson was an early favorite at the Travelers, but the Alabama product failed to make the cut, firing 78-72 to finish 10 strokes out of playing over the weekend . . . Sang Moon Bae's struggles continue, missing his fourth cut since losing in a four-way playoff at the Transitions Championship. Bae, who fired 79-71 at the Travelers, has also withdrawn (Memorial) and finished T-37, T-57 and 77 . . . Another U.S. Open darling, John Peterson, made the first cut after rounds of 70-70, but did not make the second cut after Saturday's round with a third-round 73 . . . Webb Simpson started his round with a nice birdie, but then missed an 8-footer at No. 2 that led to a sputtering final-round 71 that included a double-bogey at the par-4 14th hole . . . Matt Kuchar posted four rounds in the 60s to finish T-6, draining a long birdie putt at the par-4 18th to finish with a 2-under 68.