KUALA LUMPUR: Australian Marc Leishman pulled away from the field with a dominant front nine at TPC Kuala Lumpur before cruising home to a commanding five-stroke win at the CIMB Classic on Sunday.
Frustrated by a number of near-misses in a winless 2017-18, Leishman claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory in his first start of the new season at the US$7 million (RM29 million) co-sanctioned tournament.
“I’m really happy with everything, it’s nice to get another win,” the bulky 34-year-old said greenside, after closing with a seven-under 65 to finish with a 26-under total of 262.
“It had been over a year since I’d won, I’d had a few chances and hadn’t capitalised.”
Americans Chesson Hadley and Bronson Burgoon finished joint runners-up alongside Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo on 21 under, while headliner and two-time champion Justin Thomas was tied for fifth a stroke further back after closing strongly with a 64.
Joint overnight leader with American Gary Woodland and Indian youngster Shubhankar Sharma, Leishman built his tournament with fast starts and again attacked the opening holes with gusto on Sunday.
He charged clear with a run of four consecutive birdies from the second hole and drained a monster 14-metre putt over a ridge on the par-four ninth to blow out the lead to three shots.
His playing partners were powerless to respond, and Leishman headed to the 13th tee with a four-shot buffer after Woodland bogeyed the 12th.
Leishman finally had a blemish with a bogey on 13 but he steadied at the par-four 16th, rolling in a delightful curling birdie putt from five metres.
That left the final holes a procession, and a beaming Leishman strolled up the 18th fairway greeting fans back in his hometown of Warrnambool, Australia, through a TV camera.
Having had two runnerup finishes and four other top-10 placings without a win on the US tour last season, Leishman finished in style, sinking his eighth birdie to claim his first title since the 2017 BMW Championship.
“I want to try and win something else before the end of the year, but this is awesome,” he said.
“The kids will be very happy that I’m bringing home a trophy.”