12 Nov 2021 | Professional golf |

Leishman rides hot hand at Houston Open

by PGA of Australia

Marc Leishman walked into the clubhouse with a share of the lead.

By Tony Webeck

Victorian Marc Leishman has credited the disappointment of missing the Tour Championship as motivation for his fast start to the 2021/2022 PGA Tour season as he shares top spot midway through the opening round of the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open in Texas.

A rain delay of two hours pushed tee times back on day one at Memorial Park Golf Course but it failed to slow Leishman, who had the lead outright prior to a bogey on his final hole, the par-4 18th.

It was the lone dropped shot in a round of 5-under 65 that sees him tied with Talor Gooch and Russell Henley with half the field still yet to complete their first rounds.

On the back of Sunday surges on both occasions Leishman has already posted top-five finishes at the Fortinet Championship and Shriners Children’s Open in three starts this season and admits not qualifying for East Lake has sharpened his focus.

“It was obviously pretty disappointing not to get there, but I guess the time off, the extra week off might have helped me,” said Leishman.

“Might make this next season we’re in now a really good one.

“For about six months I feel like I’ve been playing OK, just not getting anything out of it.

“Worked on my wedge game, so everything inside 150. And I started making putts, really that’s the difference.

“It can be a crazy game, it can get you down and you can play really well and not have a good score and play mediocre golf and have a really good score.

“A fresh season, a new start was pretty good for me. Got me to knuckle down and just really focus and been playing some good golf.”

A putt from almost 45 feet at the 514-yard opening hole was the perfect way for Leishman to generate momentum early in his round, rolling in putts from seven, 11 and 18 feet at six, eight and nine to make the turn in 4-under.

A brilliant approach from 200 yards at the par-4 14th set up his fifth birdie of the day and was followed by a wedge in tight to the 159-yard par-3 15th to get to 6-under.

Winner of this event back in 2007, Adam Scott is well placed inside the top-10 after a birdie blitz to close out his opening round.

Arriving at the 324-yard par-4 13th even par, Scott almost drove the green to set up birdie and holed putts from eight and six feet at 16 and 17 to post 2-under 68 and tied for 10th.

Cam Davis and Jason Day are both even par midway through their opening rounds while Cameron Smith dropped to 1-over after finding the water at the par-5 16th and making double bogey.

Fresh from his first win last week Kiwi Steven Alker (66) is just one shot off the lead after the first round of the Champions Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Phil Mickelson and Kirk Triplett leading the way with rounds of 6-under 65.

Queensland’s Rod Pampling had four birdies in his round of 2-under 69 to sit tied for 19th.

Su Oh is the pick of the Aussies at the Pelican Women’s Championship on the LPGA Tour, opening with a round of 2-under 68 to sit tied for 23rd, six shots adrift of Irish Solheim Cup star Leona Maguire (62).

While Leishman is just getting started Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou enters the final day of the Aramco Team Series-Jeddah three strokes off the lead following a brilliant second round of 7-under 65.

When she reached 10-under the Big Green Egg Open champion held a share of the lead but is now tied for fifth three shots back of Germany’s Olivia Cowan. In the team event worth $US800,000 Team Kyriacou trails that led by Germany’s Manon Del Roey by two strokes.

Dylan Perry will begin the second of the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters in Japan at 10.50am AEDT in a share of the lead at 3-under and West Australians Min Woo Lee and Jason Scrivener are four shots off the lead in a share of 11th after day one of the European Tour’s AVIV Dubai Championship.

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