Leish­man Un­leashes A Birdie Bar­rage To Win The CIMB Clas­sic

Golf is im­por­tant, but not life or death, says Leish­man

Golf Asia - - CONTENTS -

Aus­tralia's Marc Leish­man un­leashed an early birdie bar­rage as he romped home by five shots to claim top place in the $7 mil­lion CIMB Clas­sic.

At the par-72 TPC Kuala Lumpur, Leish­man closed with a seven-un­der par 65 to fin­ish the only PGA Tour event in south­east Asia at 26-un­der par 262 for his fourth win on the PGA Tour.

His ef­fort was five shots bet­ter than Ar­gentina's Emil­iano Grillo (66), and the Amer­i­can duo of Ches­son Hadley (66) and Bron­son Bur­goon (68), all of whom fin­ished on 21-un­der par 267.

Two-time cham­pion and for­mer world num­ber one Justin Thomas (64) closed with three birdies in his last three holes to surge up the leader­board and fin­ish in tied fifth place at 268, where he was joined by Mex­i­can Abra­ham Ancer

(65), South Africa's Louis Oosthizen (69) and fel­low Amer­i­cans Charles Howell III (67) and Gary Wood­land (71).

The world num­ber 24 Leish­man won the Arnold Palmer In­vi­ta­tional and the BMW Cham­pi­onship in 2017 and con­tin­ued his win­ning streak in 2018 with the CIMB Clas­sic win. It all would have looked a dis­tant dream when the 34-year-old al­most quit the game around the time of the 2015 Masters, when his wife Au­drey was di­ag­nosed with and nearly died from acute res­pi­ra­tory dis­tress syn­drome and toxic shock syn­drome.

An emo­tional Leish­man, who made eight birdies, in­clud­ing a putt from nearly 50 feet on the par-4 ninth, and a soli­tary bo­gey, said it felt "un­be­liev­able" to win.

"It was a very tough time that we went through, but it cer­tainly made us stronger as peo­ple, made us ap­pre­ci­ate just the ev­ery­day things, ap­pre­ci­ate our kids more, ap­pre­ci­ate friends, fam­ily, ev­ery­thing," he said of his wife's ill­ness.

“I won't say it made golf less im­por­tant, but it made me re­al­ize that golf's not life or death... As long as I give it my best shot, that's what it's all about.”

Leish­man opened with a par and then made four birdies in the next four holes to pull ahead. A brace of birdies on the ninth and 10th had taken him to 25-un­der par, with none of his clos­est pur­suers putting any pres­sure on him.

Overnight joint leader Shub­hankar Sharma of In­dia started in a shaky man­ner be­fore com­ing back strongly with four birdies in four holes from the eighth on­wards, but he made three straight bo­geys from the 11th to fin­ish on even-par for the day.

Wood­land also had an up and down round and never got go­ing.

Grillo could have had a much bet­ter fin­ish, but af­ter get­ting to six-un­der par for the day af­ter 12 holes, he could not make a sin­gle birdie on the last six holes.

The 26-year-old Ar­gen­tine said: “I played very well, I shot 30 on the front nine. I started think­ing if I could shoot seven-un­der, it would give me the chance. Un­for­tu­nately, I wasn't able to play as well on the back nine, but four rounds in the 60s is al­ways good.”

Hadley, 31, made a dou­ble bo­gey on the ninth hole, but four birdies on the back nine res­ur­rected his round, and he was de­lighted with his fin­ish af­ter a poor run of form lately.

“De­lighted like you wouldn't be­lieve. I haven't been play­ing well for a while and to have a good tour­na­ment like this is re­ally nice,” said the 2014 Puerto Rico Open cham­pion.

Bur­goon, who led af­ter the open­ing day with a 63, recorded only his third top-10 fin­ish in three years on the PGA Tour.

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