Leishman adds to Aussie triumphs on the greens
Marc Leishman's victory over the world's best at Torrey Pines has turned the Australia Day weekend into a dizzying triumph for Aussie golf on two continents.
Leishman sprinted past world No.2 Rory McIlroy and left crowd favourite Tiger Woods in his wake to win the Farmers Insurance Open on the Californian coast with a superb seven-under-par 65 in the final round.
His victory came less than 10 hours after fellow Victorian Lucas Herbert won his first European Tour event and a career-high $794,000 cheque in a nerve-jangling play-off for the Dubai Desert Classic.
It has been a stunning fortnight for Australian golf with Cameron Smith winning the Sony Open in Hawaii and Wade Ormsby holding aloft the Hong Kong Open trophy.
There has been an energy beyond just golf because Leishman too has been driving fundraising support to fight the devastating bushfires and their aftermath in Australia.
He donated US $8000 just for his donation pledge of $1000 per eagle (one) and $500 for a birdie (14) at the Sony Open two weeks ago in Hawaii.
Leishman recently summarised what it meant: "Shattering to see the devastation the bushfires have caused so far but great to see the Australian spirit come through with all the support."
Leishman (68-72-68-65) rolled in eight birdies in the final round but lengthy clutch putts to save par on the 12th and 14th holes on the way home were just as important to protect his buffer.
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Leishman's fifth victory on the elite PGA Tour will catapult the world No.28 towards the top 20 after a win with five of the world's top 10 in the field.
A fist pump after the sweet roll of his final birdie putt on the last green showed all that reaching 15-under meant because he needed it to hold off Spain's Jon Rahm (70), who finished birdie-birdie-birdie to finish just a stroke behind.
Rahm had a downhill eagle putt from more than 17m on the final green to force a play-off but there were to be no heroics like his epic eagle from longer range on the same hole to win the tournament in 2017.
Herbert wasn't wearing a red shirt on Sunday a la Woods but a red shirt and sleeveless black vest as a nod to Essendon, his favourite AFL team.
The go-for-it golfer dumped his approach shot to the green in the water at the first play-off hole but salvaged a clutch par before a winning birdie on the same par five to beat South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout.
Herbert paid immediate tribute to firefighters and volunteer services when he walked off the final green.
"There's some pretty average stuff happening in Australia right now with the fires and I'd love to say the same thing as Cam ... everyone around the world is behind us and hopefully we can keep fighting harder than what I did on that first play-off hole," he said.
"That's nothing compared to the firefighters and volunteers that are putting out the fires so I'm sending all my love back home."
Herbert (69-71-71-68) finished at nine-under and the great bonus to his triumph will be a two-year exemption on the European Tour.