Kuala Lumpur, Oct 14 (PTI) Overnight joint leader Shubhankar Sharma could not play his best golf on the final day, managing only an even par round to finish Tied-10th at the USD 7 million CIMB Classic on Sunday Coming on the heels of a period during which he has had six missed cuts in nine starts, a joint lead by round three augured well for the 22-year-old from India. However, it did not turn out be his day and he was understandably disappointed at not being able to convert his second career 54-hole lead into a maiden PGA Tour title.
The genial Australian Marc Leishman, who came close to quitting the game in 2015 when his wife was discovered with a rare life-threatening condition, continued his fine run to win his fourth title on the PGA Tour.
Leishman, playing a very high level of golf since his second round 62, carded a 7-under 65, that took his total to 26-under 262, equalling the tournament record set in 2015 by Justin Thomas.
Leishman ended five shots ahead of second placed trio — first round leader, Bronson Burgoon (68), Emiliano Grillo (66) and Chesson Hadley (66) — who finished T-2 with 21-under 267.
Among other Indians, Gaganjeet Bhullar had a good finish with a 7-under 65 that lifted him 15 places up to T-27 as he ended at 13-under 275 despite a closing bogey. After a sedate first nine holes, Bhullar was fired up with five birdies and an eagle in eight holes from first to the eighth and carded 65. Anirban Lahiri (70) was 4-under 284 for the week, while Rahil Gangjee (72) was 5-over and T-75th.
Sharma, who had two bogeys in his first six holes, came back strongly with four birdies from 7th to 10th, only to lose the momentum over the next three holes, which he bogeyed.
“Sure, it was disappointing to finish T-10 after being in lead, but I would gave gladly taken this before the start, coming from where I was before this week. A Top-10, my second one on the PGA Tour and a 19-under total is not bad. It gives me a good feeling for next two weeks in Korea and Shanghai,” said Sharma.
Sharma had five birdies against five bogeys and was the only player in the Top-25 not to go under par on Sunday. Still, Sharma and Korea’s Si-Woo Kim (65) were the best Asians.
Sharma missed a birdie putt on the first when he was two inches from the cup and then missed a four-footer 14th before squandering two more chances on 17th and 18th.
“My start was not as good, but I came back really strong. I made four birdies in a row and I was really happy with the way I was playing and I knew I had a chance as I was only three behind.
“Then, there was some wait on the 11th hole and I was in between clubs so I was trying to hit a soft rescue and that was probably one of the worst swings of the day and that ended up in the water. I think that killed the momentum for me. A par there would have gone a long way and I probably could have made more birdies after that.” Leishman’s superb week took off from the second round 62 and was completed with rounds of 68-62-67-65 and a total of 26-under 262.
On Sunday, he had four birdies in a row from second to fifth and two more around the turn at nine and 10 and finally completed the rituals with further birdies on 16th and 18th. His only dropped shot was Par-13th.
Leishman’s wife Audrey was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome and she nearly died. Leishman stopped playing to take care of the family, but since then she has recovered since and Leishman won twice in 2017 and now once in 2018.
“I won’t say it made golf less important, but it made me realize that golf’s not life or death. We’ve been through that and that’s not fun. Yes, I want to win trophies and lucky enough today to be leaving with one, which my kids will be very happy about. By the way, but if I wasn’t to walk away the winner today, that’s all right, too. As long as I give it my best shot, that’s what it’s all about,” said Leishman.
Two-time champion in 2015 and 2016, Justin Thomas, played the low round of the day at 8-under 64 to go up to T-5 alongside overnight co-leader Gary Woodland (71), Charles Howell III (67), Mexican Abraham Ancer (65) and the former Open winner, Louis Oosthuizen (69).