09 Mar 2020 | Professional golf |

Leishman's near-miss at Bay Hill

by Martin Blake

Marc Leishman Bay Hill image
Marc Leishman grinding during his final round at Bay Hill today. Photo: Getty

Marc Leishman was just a breath short of a second PGA Tour victory today at Bay Hill, runner-up in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida.

The Australian, who won the Farmer Insurance Open at Torrey Pines last month, played in the final group with eventual winner Tyrrell Hatton of England, and moved within a shot of Hatton when he birdied the par-five 16th hole with two putts from the fringe.

But Hatton closed with two solid pars at the 17th and 18th -- seven straight to finish the day -- to shut out the Victorian.

Leishman almost buried a long bomb for birdie at the par-three 17th that would have potentially given him a share of the lead, but it stayed on the lip of the hole. At the par-four 18th, he hit the left side of the green and two-putted for par, but Hatton stayed strong to record his first-ever US Tour victory.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy (76) was among those to drop away on the firm greens at Bay Hill today.

It was a tough day for everyone at Bay Hill with four-under par being the winning score for Hatton, who could only manage a closing 73, two-over par, stumbling with a double bogey at the 11th and thinking that his tournament was done.

Leishman also hit a water ball at the third but hung tough all day, and he will likely move back inside the top 20 on the world rankings (from last week's 21st).

The 35-year-old picked up more than $US 1 million for his work on the day, making a two-metre par putt at the last to hold outright second ahead of South Korea's Sungjae Im.

He is projected to jump to sixth in the Fedex Cup standings as the tour moves on to the Players at Sawgrass this week.

“I love when you, if you shoot par it’s a good score,” Leishman said later. “I enjoy all sorts of golf, but this is a really big mental test. And going into The Players next week in a good place mentally, and with the major season coming up as well. Yeah, so good signs. Going to take some positives out of this.”


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