Surge-io as Leishman holds firm
Marc Leishman says his Masters meltdown in April helped save his second round at the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational after a head-scratching start, leaving him well and truly in the mix in a tie for third.
Leishman backed up his superb 64 from day one at Firestone Country Club with a solid one-under par 69, moving the Victorian to seven-under for the tournament, good enough to be tied third with world No.2 Rory McIlroy.
But he was bested by Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who lit up the back nine with eight birdies in a nine hole master class to finish off a blistering course record equalling 61, pushing him to 11-under and a three-shot lead.
Garcia turned in one-under for his round, promptly birdied the 10th and parred the 11th before rattling off an incredible seven straight birdies to shoot 27 on the back side.
England’s Justin Rose carded a 67 be second at eight under.
Leishman looked set to get off to a screaming start and increase his overnight lead to two when he slotted his approach on the first hole inside three feet but ended up three-putting from the short distance, taking bogey and falling back into a tie.
In the past, the Victorian may have wanted to wrap his putter around his knee but the mature 30-year-old sucked it up and set about moving forward.
In April, after hitting the lead at the Masters early in the second round, he sensationally imploded over a three-hour horror stretch, playing 12 holes in a brutal 10-over par to miss the cut by a shot.
“The Masters taught me quite a few things and I knew right then at the first that one hole won’t make or break this tournament for me, I had to move on and not let it accumulate,” Leishman said.
“I knew there were quite a lot of birdie chances out there to come and I know if you don’t let the bad stuff go quickly you’ll be in trouble.”
Leishman was excited about the chance to add a second PGA Tour win, but easily the biggest of his career.
“I don’t feel out of my depth when I am around the lead and I’m excited to test myself against the best players in the world over the weekend,” he said.
World No.1 Adam Scott, who shot one-under on Thursday, made a small push up the boards with a 68 to move to three-under and a tie for 12th.
Matt Jones (70), Steven Bowditch (71) and John Senden (66) sit at even par and tied 28th.
An out of sorts Jason Day put a 71 in the books to be five-over. Eight-time winner and defending champion Tiger Woods shot 71 to be one-under and tied 25th.