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Leishman picks up where he left off to lead in Hawaii

Leishman tees off at the last today (Photo: Getty Images)
Marc Leishman’s brilliant year in 2017, which saw him move from outside the top 50 to the number 12 position in the world ranking and take over as Australia’s leading ranked player, looks set to roll over into the New Year after taking the opening round lead at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii.

Leishman’s round of 67 on a blustery day at the Plantation Course leaves him one ahead of Jhonattan Vegas and Brian Harman with Si Woo Kim, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson another shot back in a share of 4th place.

Leishman’s round began in the strong, gusty trade-winds so prevalent in the region and while those conditions improved late in the round it was a run of holes between the 5th and 10th which set up his great start.

Leishman birdied five of six holes in that stretch to move into a share of the lead and then, although dropping a shot when he was unable to get up and down from the greenside bunker at the 11th, he was able to add two further birdies at the 15th and 17th holes to edge ahead of the field.

Leishman missed an opportunity at the last when he was just short with his approach at the par 5 last and pitched 20 feet past.

He was, though, delighted with his day. "It was pretty solid really,” Leishman told the Golf Channel after his round.  "I drove the ball pretty well with the exception of a couple of drives and the putter was really, really solid. Happy with eight birdies and a good start to a nice tournament.

“The confidence is really high and good results help with that but having said that I know that I am not owed anything and that it is not a given that I am going to play well and have to keep working. But confidence makes it easier to play well.”

The disappointment of day one was the effort of former winner and world number two, Jordan Spieth, whose opening round of even par 73 has him tied for 30th in the 34 player field.

Spieth struggled to the turn in even par but was unable to make any headway as he finished with a closing nine of 39 to finish with 75 on the par 73 layout.

Also with an opening round of 75 was Australia’s only other representative in the field Cameron Smith who made the worst possible start when he dropped five shots in the first 8 holes, three of them at the par 3 8th when he took triple bogey.

He did recover by playing his final ten holes in 3 under but the damage had been done.  






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