Monday Finish: Leishman surges at Farmers Insurance Open
Rides hot putter to one-shot victory over Jon Rahm
January 27, 2020
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Marc Leishman's winning highlights from Farmers Insurance Open
It was not an easy day, especially not at the start.
Rory McIlroy bogeyed three of the first four holes, Jon Rahm four of the first five to lose his 54-hole lead. Marc Leishman? All he did was birdie seven of his first 13 holes, and just like that, he had gone from four behind at the start to in control of the tournament.
And while he’d let leads go at the Farmers, he held onto this one with both hands. He went even par the rest of the way, chasing a bogey on 17 with a closing birdie at the par-5 18th to win.
“Marc played an amazing round of golf to go out there somewhat in contention and shoot 65,” said McIlroy (69, T3). “It was tough today, pins were tucked away a little bit, greens were maybe a touch firmer than they were the last few days, so for him to -- for him to go out there and shoot 65, yeah, really, really good playing.”
For more on Leishman’s win on Australia Day, click here.
Welcome to the Monday Finish.
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
1. Leishman was persistent. He had always loved the course, which reminds him of his home in Australia with the grasses and eucalyptus trees, and it had loved him back. Sort of. He had a handful of top-10s at Torrey Pines, including a pair of runner-up finishes, but no wins. Instead of getting frustrated, Leishman, who began the final round four behind leader Rahm, grew ever more determined with each near-miss. “This is a pretty sweet victory just because I've come close here a few times,” he said. “From my first year on TOUR I felt like this is a place I could win at, and then to finally do it my 12th year on TOUR is really satisfying.”
2. He putted lights-out. Leishman was so zeroed in on the greens Sunday, when he made over 150 feet of putts, his caddie, Matty Kelly, reported simply wanting to stay out of the way. The feeling, Kelly said, was not unlike baseball players watching a teammate throw a no-hitter. Leishman was +4.78 in Strokes Gained: Putting in the final round, the second-best single-round performance of his career, trailing only the third round of the 2016 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. “A bit of extra practice early in the week on the putting green,” he said. Amazingly, he hit just three fairways, tied for fewest by a winner on TOUR in the last 30 years. For more of the best stats from this week at Torrey Pines, click here.
3. He seized control early. Although he was well back in the chase pack through 54 holes, Leishman quickly established himself as the man to beat, making seven birdies over the first 13 holes. His final-round 65 tied for the lowest by a winner at Torrey South, and salted away his fifth TOUR win. “I saw that the guys out front didn't get off to the best start,” he said, “and then that really got my determination up. I've led here early in the last round maybe once or twice and let it slip. I was very determined to not let that happen again.”
Rahm’s finish was epic. Runner-up Rahm put on a show as he eagled the 13th hole and went 6 under for the last six. A bogey at the par-4 15th proved costly, as he ultimately finished a shot back, but it was still an impressive performance by the 2017 Farmers champion. He was 4 over for his first five holes and shot a front-nine 39. “From 13 on, I kind of got in the mindset of just loosen up, doesn't matter, you're six shots back,” he said. “Just try to maybe get the round to even par, not shoot over par in this tournament, which is obviously a hard thing to do. Made that eagle, started to get some good vibes, started hitting fairways, and that birdie on 14 kind of got me going. I was confident with the putter all day, I just was never close enough to make putts. And even with that bogey on 15, I'm like, you know, it's going to take a special finish.” It was almost enough, falling short only when his 53-foot eagle try missed at the last.
Snedeker a lock at Torrey. Brandt Snedeker sometimes feels like he’s been adopted as an honorary Californian at Torrey Pines. And for good reason. The 2012 and 2016 Farmers champion was making his 14th straight start in the event, and his T3 finish marked his eighth top-10 finish there. “Yeah, something about it,” he said of his success at the Farmers. “I was in a great mood when I got here, always in a great mood when I show up here, great feel for the greens and how you have to putt them, when to be aggressive with them, when to just realize a two-putt's probably going to be okay. You know, I was playing really good coming in and I took advantage, I drove it great today, which is a huge battle for me. I missed one fairway all day, which around here is unbelievable for me. So nothing to complain about.” Well, one thing, he added, did irk him. He went 3 over for his first six holes in his third-round 72.
“I didn't have my best stuff today, but my iron game, putting was pretty amazing.” – Marc Leishman, who hit three fairways and made over 150 feet of putts.
“I can’t really play much worse for the first 10 holes.” – Jon Rahm (39-31 70, solo 2nd)
“I’m always in a good mood when I’m here, which is probably half the battle.” – Brandt Snedeker (T3)
The Wyndham Rewards Top 10 is a season-long competition that offers a $10 million bonus for the 10 golfers who end the regular season at the Wyndham Championship inside the top 10 in FedExCup points. The player atop the standings will earn $2 million, with varying payoffs for the others through $500,000 for the 10th place finisher.
Justin Thomas remains in pole position, while Brendon Todd is still second. Marc Leishman made the biggest move, from 49th and to No. 7 after his victory at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Here’s how the standings look heading into this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
This week/Last week/Player