Marc Leishman fired a bogey-free eight-under 62 to post a 14-under total at the Travelers Championship. Teeing off two hours and ten minutes prior to the final group, Leishman sat around and waited to see if it’d hold up — even though he didn’t think it would when he came off the course.
“I say to (Matty Kelly, my caddie,) this morning that I probably had to get to 15 to have a chance,” he said, speaking to reporters following his round. “I couldn’t quite get there, but 14(-under) is not bad. I gave myself a chance, anyway.”
At the time the guess was maybe 15 but probably 16-under would win. Well, that was before the back nine at TPC River Highlands turned into Choke City, for lack of a better term. It wasn’t like it was fun to watch players botch their chances, but you know what they say about train wrecks…
How many were there? Well, James Driscoll, a Boston-area native, knocked it out of bounds on Nos. 10 and 14. Tim Clark putted his eagle attempt off the green on No. 13 and then missed a two-footer on No. 17. Bubba Watson hit it in the drink on No. 15. So did Roland Thatcher. Brian Davis looked tentative and backed off several times as he set up to his second shot on No. 13 and then pulled it in the water.
Standing on 17 tee with a two-shot lead, Charley Hoffman hit a 2-hybrid in the water that guards the right side of the hole (and it looked like he almost shanked it, according to the Shotlink image, or it came right off the toe because it went *straight* right). He ended up making a double-bogey and then closed with a bogey on No. 18. Defending champ Fredrik Jacobson, who played with Hoffman, followed him in the drink on his approach shot.
Leishman had his own run-in with nerves and final-round pressure on the 18th. His mistake was much less costly and didn’t involve penalty strokes. From the middle of the fairway with 107 yards to the front-right pin, Leish pulled a gap wedge to the left fringe. It was a pretty awful shot, but he recovered nicely with a lovely left-to-right breaking lag putt across the green to tap-in range (actually it looked like it had a chance to go in until it tailed off to the right at the end).
“I tried to fade a gap wedge in there and I just pulled it,” he said. “It was a bad shot. I double crossed it and hit it into that valley. But I hit a really good putt out of there and it was short right in the middle of the hole, so with a little more pace, it would have went in. That happens.”
Leishman credited the advice and companionship of Kelly, his longtime friend and caddie.
“I’m just thinking of way he didn’t hinder me,” joked Leishman, referring to Kelly. “No, seriously, Matty knows my game so well. Our friendship had a calming effect on me coming down the stretch, along with him knowing my game better than anyone else. He’s been virtually with me for every shot I’ve hit the last six years or more.”
Added Kelly: “It was gratifying to see that all Marc’s hard work we’ve done together paid off in the last 10 years.”
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)