Leishman thrives in windy first round at Sentry
January 04, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Marc Leishman interview after Round 1 of Sentry
KAPALUA, Hawaii – Marc Leishman has long been known as the wind warrior from Warrnambool and his first-round effort at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly lived up to his moniker.
With steady winds of 15-25 mph and gusts of up to 35 mph hitting the Plantation Course, Leishman’s leading 6-under 67 was an impressive effort.
But it wasn’t a surprise to those who know him well.
The three-time PGA TOUR winner cut his teeth on the Melbourne sandbelt of courses in his native Australia that hosts gems like Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and Victoria Golf Club.
Those ageless tracks are often defended by the local winds.
But it was his days as a junior growing up in the coastal town of Warrnambool, southwest of Melbourne, where the comfort level in serious gusts came from.
“Every day it was windy down there. It would be a calm day down there and I wouldn't know what to do and would play terrible,” Leishman said.
“Just basically every round of golf I played until I was 15 was in a really strong wind. I just didn't know any different and it actually took me some time when I got over here to find my feet when it wasn't windy.”
With the forecast predicting more of the same for the remainder of the tournament the 34-year-old is well primed to add a fourth TOUR title, and third win inside 10 months.
The memories of the week are already much better than his only other appearance where gale-force winds caused several delays and eventually resulted in a 54-hole tournament in 2013.
It wasn’t the wind that hurt him that year – but the local food.
“I got food poisoning on the Thursday night, so the Friday I threw up three times in the first five holes and they canceled the whole day so I was really happy,” he recalled.
“I remember spending a lot of time in a hotel room.”
Marc Leishman leads the pack at Sentry
HARMAN STARTS YEAR IN HARMONY: It is clearly early in 2018 but it appears Brian Harman is poised to have another impressive year. The former Georgia Bulldog fed off his alma mater’s success on the football field to go bogey-free and sit just one back at 5-under 68. “Whenever you get to count on your birdies, you're doing something good, especially in tough conditions,” Harman said. “I'm very happy with it. Did I expect it? Most rounds I don't go bogey-free, so I did not expect it. But you have to dial it back just a little bit on days like today to make sure that you stay in play and I was able to do that.”
CLEAR-HEADED SI WOO GOES LOW: THE PLAYERS champion Si Woo Kim says a refreshed mind could be the key to more rounds like his opening 4-under 67. With just one top-10 finish in 16 PGA TOUR starts since his win last year at TPC Sawgrass Kim enjoyed a healthy break over the holidays as he looked to recharge. “I didn't expect much because I had one month off,” Kim said. “But everything does feel better than last year, my head is all clean.”
DJ NOT DIALED IN: It says a lot for Dustin Johnson’s talent level when he’s clearly not dialed in yet sits just two shots off the lead. Johnson hit just 8 of 15 fairways (T28) and was 26th in the 34-man field in proximity to the hole on approach yet still found a way to an eagle and three birdies with just a lone bogey. “Definitely missed some putts, but I felt like I hit good putts, just didn't have quite enough speed and lipped out a few on the low side,” he said. “But other than that, it was really solid.”
Jordan Spieth – If Spieth is to continue his run of top three finishes at the Plantation Course it is going to take a very impressive turnaround. The 2016 Sentry Tournament of Champions winner struggled to a 2-over 75 and was T30 in the 34-man field after feeling a little under the weather.
Justin Thomas – The defending champion and FedExCup holder fought back from a scratchy middle section of his round to post a 2-under 71 to sit T12.
Dustin Johnson – The world No. 1 sits well poised in a tie for fourth after a gutsy 4-under 69. Johnson had three birdies and an eagle with just a lone bogey.
Rickie Fowler – Coming off his win at the Hero World Challenge and sporting an impressive Hawaiian shirt, Fowler shot 69 to be just two shots back of the lead in a tie for fourth.
Patton Kizzire – The FedExCup leader is T17 after an opening-round 72.
Rickie Fowler extended highlights | Round 1 | Sentry
“Just met friends, ate a lot of food, getting fat.” – Si Woo Kim on his time off.
“I killed a 162-inch deer with my bow, I got a new rifle built, I've been shooting some long range. I'm about to get into reloading, reloading the bullets and then I practiced a little bit.” – Brian Harman on his off-season.
“This is the first time in my life I'm the oldest at anything, so I think this is great. I found out Wednesday that I'm two days older than Pat Perez. So we were joking about it at the hotel and he was kind of upset because he wanted to be the oldest.” Ryan Armour, 41, on being the elder statesman in the youngest TOC field in history.
“I feel like I hit my irons as good as some of the best on TOUR, and if I'm able to keep it in play, give myself some really good positions to attack these hole locations, I'm going to have a lot of birdie opportunities which is always good.” – Jhonattan Vegas after a 5-under 68 left him T2.
“It was definitely the best break I've had all year. I left a big hole in their backyard, so when they get home they will be surprised.” – a deadpan Marc Leishman after a wild drive on the 14th landed in someone’s yard but was ruled in bounds and playable.
“Well, we are in Maui, so I feel like this shirt was somewhat fitting. It fits here. I wasn't afraid of going out and doing something different. I've always been different. I don't want to go straight down the middle of the fairway. I like to skirt into the rough a little bit, but at the same time obviously still be respectable.” – Rickie Fowler on his unique Hawaiian golf shirt.
Dustin Johnson extended highlights | Round 1 | Sentry
Low round: Marc Leishman’s 6-under 67 included eight birdies and two bogeys. He missed eagle putts from 15 and 7 feet.
Longest drive: Patrick Cantlay sent one 412 yards on the par-4 seventh before wedging it to 20 feet and making birdie.
Longest putt: Chris Stroud drained one from 48 feet, 11 inches on the par-4 fourth while Russell Henley was also pleased with his birdie putt on the 13th from 46 feet, 8 inches.
Easiest hole: The par-5 fifth averaged 4.382 with one eagle, 22 birdies, nine pars, one bogey and one double bogey.
Hardest hole: The par-3 eighth played at 3.265 yielding just five birdies, 19 pars, eight bogeys and two others.