Marc Leishman opens 2018 with six-under 67 to take one-stroke lead at Kapalua
Excluding Justin Thomas, the argument can be made that no player on the PGA Tour finished 2017 better than Marc Leishman, having won the BMW Championship in September, finishing third the week prior at the Dell Technologies Championship and nearly edging out Thomas a month later at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in a playoff.
The World No. 12 is picking up where he left off as the new year began in Hawaii, posting a first-round six-under 67 at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. He leads Brian Harman and Jhonattan Vegas by one stroke at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
"The putter was really, really solid," said Leishman, who led the field in putts per green in regulation on Thursday. "It was nice to see some putts go in, gets the year off to a really good start."
After making birdie at the first, the Aussie dropped a shot at the par-4 third, but rebounded with four birdies on the final six holes of his front nine. Despite high winds that made life difficult for some of the other top players in the world, Leishman was still able to finish strong, coming home in two-under 37 and just missing birdie at the 18th.
"I grew up in it [the wind], I enjoy playing in it, which is helpful," he said. "It just takes a little imagination, you got to trust what the wind is going to do with your ball and deal with it if it doesn't do that."
One back are Harman and Vegas, each posting five-under 68s.
At four under are Dustin Johnson, Si Woo Kim and Rickie Fowler, the latter of whom bounced back from a nasty double bogey at the par-4 13th with a 21-foot eagle putt at the 18th to finish with a 69. Six players sit three back at three under, including world No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama.
In the final group of the day were Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who each showed a little rust, but it was Thomas who was able to battle for a two-under 71, while Spieth finished with a two-over 75.