That Marc Leishman felt a bit of hurt Monday after falling to Zach Johnson in a playoff at the Open Championship is probably a good sign.
Though he has a newfound perspective on life after his wife, Audrey, suffered toxic-shock syndrome and nearly died in April, Leishman, 31, hasn’t lost his competitive instincts.
To prove that, you need only look at his 64-66 in the last two rounds at the Old Course, lifting him from T-50 to nearly being named champion golfer of the year. The Monday chase – in which he took the outright lead on the back nine until making his lone bogey, on the 16th hole – took too much out of the Aussie, and two bogeys on the first three holes of the four-hole playoff knocked him out of the hunt.
“I didn’t have my best stuff there,” he said. Yet, as he had with a T-5 at Hoylake a year ago, Leishman showed he can compete with the game’s elite, something that still means a great deal to him. Just not everything. “I can go home tomorrow and hug Audrey and the boys and celebrate a little bit,” Leishman said.
“It would have been nice to have a claret jug to drink out of to celebrate, but I’ll find something else.” —Ryan Herrington
Though Jason Day saw another chance to win a major slip away this week – leaving a birdie putt short on the 18th hole at St Andrews that would have made him the fourth man in the British Open playoff – the 27-year-old Aussie refused to view the near-miss in a negative light.
“I really did the right things to give myself the opportunity at getting into the playoff and having a shot at winning my first major,” Day said after shooting a bogey-free 70 Monday.
“I played really good golf this week.”
With six top-fives in Majors since 2011, only his countryman Adam Scott (seven) has more in that span. Like at the U.S. Open, Day shared the lead after 54 holes at St Andrews, just the eighth player to do so in the same year since World War II. But he became the only one not to win either of them. As for his putt at 18, Day again had no regrets.
“I didn’t want to blast it way past the hole and hit it through the break,” said Day, whose T-4 improved on his previous best Open finish of T-30 in 2011. “Unfortunately, I thought it was a little bit faster, and it just pulled up short.” —Geoff Shackelford
When Adam Scott birdied the 10th hole and joined Zach Johnson in the lead Monday at St Andrews, it marked the third time in four years the Aussie had been out front at the Open Championship with nine or fewer holes remaining. And yet two hours later, the 35-year-old was left to ponder a third heartbreaking collapse.
“It’s hard to digest it all at the moment,” Scott said. “But I probably needed a really good back nine, and I had a really poor back nine.”
Scott posted a four-over 40, after starting the day three back and going out in 31. He could have overcome his bogey on the par-5 14th, given its 5.225 final-round average. But on the next hole, a missed 18-inch par putt led to an unraveling that included a bogey on 17, an out-of-bounds tee shot on 18 and, ultimately, a T-10 showing, five out of the playoff.
The reunion with caddie Steve Williams, begun at Chambers Bay, has Scott focused and determined. But that isn’t always enough when a Major is on the line. Said Scott: “It’s a shame not to get in there and finish with a shot … but maybe it was too much to ask today.” — G.S