Kuala Lumpur: Shubhankar Sharma was unable to find the momentum that had carried him into a share of the lead after three rounds as he slid to Tied-10th on the final day of the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur. Yet, it was his second Top 10 finish on the PGA Tour and ended a disappointing run over the last few months. But there was still a tinge of ‘disappointment’ at not being able to snare a breakthrough PGA Tour win.
Australian Marc Leishman (65), who nearly quit the game three and a half years ago, when his wife Audrey was diagnosed with a condition that nearly cost her life, completed a brilliant week. It included a second round 10-under 62, which put him in shared lead at the end of second and third rounds and he never let go from there.
Leishman totalled 26-under 262, which equalled the tournament record set in 2015 by Justin Thomas. Leishman was five clear of the second placed trio, first round leader, Bronson Burgoon (68), Emiliano Grillo (66) and Chesson Hadley (66) finished T-2 at 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 one bogey and two birdies on the back nine of the course, which he played first on Sunday, Bhullar was on fire with five birdies and an eagle in eight holes from first to the eighth, before finishing with a bogey in his 65.
Anirban Lahiri (70) was 4-under 284 for the week, while Rahil Gangjee (72) was 5-over and T-75th.
Sharma makes strong comeback, only to give it away
Sharma, who came here with six missed cuts in nine starts and a best of T-42nd in Taiwan, took positives from the result and said, “It was disappointing (finishing 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 rode a roller-coaster with five bogeys cancelling out five birdies and was the only player among the Top 25 not to go under par on Sunday. Still, Sharma and Korea’s Si-Woo Kim (65) were the best Asians.
Sharma said, “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.
“After that it was just a trend of hitting bad shots. Even the next hole after that I hit it in the bunker, I had a relatively easy shot and I duffed it and couldn't make up and down. On the next hole after that I was in the fairway, hit a good second shot to the left,” he said. “So that 11th hole I think 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 testing times helps him appreciate golf more
On Sunday, Leishman took off from where he had left on Saturday and never took his foot off the pedal. He had four straight birdies from the second and two more around the turn and finally closed with birdies on 16th and 18th during his 65, which reduced his major rivals to bystanders. His only dropped shot was Par-13th and he was always in control.
Leishman came close to quitting in 2015, withdrawing from the Masters, when his wife, Audrey was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome and she nearly succumbed to it. She has recovered since and Leishman won twice in 2017 and now once in 2018.
Leishman’s eyes went moist, as he recalled his tough times, “I won't say it made golf less important, but it made me realise that golf's not a matter of 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.”
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 former Open winner, Louis Oosthuizen (69).
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Updated Date: Oct 14, 2018 17:36:29 IST