Date: May 21, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Gallant Leish bows to Wise

Marc Leishman was outduelled by rising tyro Aaron Wise today, finishing second at the Byron Nelson Classic in Dallas.

The Australian, who had held or shared the lead with Wise since his career-best opening round 62, fended off a host of other challengers to record his sixth top-10 finish of the US PGA Tour season.

But his closing three-under-par 68 couldn’t match 21-year-old Wise, who was stoic and calm beyond his years in shooting a bogey-free 65 to win by three shots at 23 under.

Wise, winner of the 2016 Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne, looked in better nick when the final round began four hours late after rain and lightning crossed Texas.

But an eagle two at the par-four fifth gave Leishman renewed hope.

Tour rookie Wise, though, was imperious in peeling off six birdies in seven holes from the fourth to pull clear. And even when he pulled a drive up the ninth hole that looked headed for the timber, it bounced forward and right off a sprinkler head and left him an easy approach which he cashed in for another birdie.

The agony didn’t end there for Australian golfers at Trinity Forest, despite two other outstanding efforts.

Adam Scott, who has played every US Open since 2002, needed no worse than a two-way share of ninth to ensure he returned to the world top 60 that would book a berth in the year’s second major after today’s event.

The Queenslander did his bit with a superb birdie up the last hole to shoot a 65 that momentarily had him in a share of sixth.

But Scott could only watch on as much of the rest of the field closed strongly and bumped his 15-under total back into a three-way share of ninth that left him agonisingly at No.61 in the projected rankings. The next and final automatic qualification cut-off is on June 11, giving Scott three weeks to climb into the top 60.

Matt Jones, whose most recent win on the US PGA Tour came in Texas in 2014, began promisingly with three birdies in his first five holes playing in the final group.

The wind came out of the Sydneysider’s sails with a couple of bogeys to close the outward nine, before an eagle on the 15th gave him renewed hope of a top-10 finish that would earn a start at the Fort Worth Invitational at nearby Colonial next week.

But a three-putt bogey on the part-three 17th and another on the last proved costly, dropping him to an even-par 71 and a share of 13th at 13 under.

Capping a solid if not spectacular week for the Aussies, Geoff Ogilvy closed with a 69 to finish T32 at nine under, Cameron Percy (70) and Rod Pampling (70) shared 70th at three under and Robert Allenby closed with a 74 to finish 75th at two over.