LA JOLLA — Australian Marc Leishman overcame a four-stroke deficit on Sunday, Jan. 26 with his lowest score in 44 rounds at the $7.5 million Farmers Insurance Open to win the tournament by one stroke over Spaniard Jon Rahm.
Leishman began the round in a seven-way tie for seventh. He birdied the first, second and fourth holes at Torrey Pines Golf Course’s South Course to take a one-stroke lead over Americans Patrick Reed and Brandt Snedeker.
Rahm, the leader entering Sunday’s play, was among eight golfers two strokes off the lead after bogeying the first hole and double-bogeying the third.
Leishman added birdies on the sixth, eighth, 11th and 13th holes.
Rahm, playing two groups behind Leishman, began a comeback attempt with an eagle on the 13th hole and a birdie on the 14th, pulling to within three strokes of Leishman.
Leishman’s only bogey of the round came on the par-4 17th when he missed an 8-foot, 5-inch putt for par by 19 inches, but still led by three strokes as Rahm bogeyed the 15th.
Leishman kept a three-stroke lead when he completed his round with a 5- foot, 7-inch putt for birdie on the par-5 18th to finish at 7-under-par 65 for the round and 15-under-par 273 for the tournament.
Rahm cut the lead to two strokes with a birdie on the 17th. His chance to force a playoff ended when his 52-foot, 10-inch putt for an eagle stopped six inches short and to the left of the hole. He tapped in for the birdie to complete a stretch of six holes with four birdies, an eagle and a bogey.
Rahm said he did not look at the scoreboard following the 17th hole and thought he was one stroke behind Leishman.
“I wouldn’t have changed anything,” said Rahm, a 25-year-old who is third on the Official World Golf Ranking behind American Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.
“I hit a great drive and a great second shot. The putt, that’s a tough putt. You can’t just ram it by 10 feet by, it’s just not going to go in. So I did hit it with trying to make it with perfect speed, thinking a two-putt would get into a playoff, but when (caddie) Adam (Hayes) told me the news, he’s like, `Hey, good try.’ I’m like, `What do you mean, we’re in a playoff.’ He’s like, `Nope, he birdied 18.’ And I didn’t hear any roars or anything, so I just assumed he parred. Again, even if I hit the right speed, that putt doesn’t go in, it was left of the hole the whole way, so it doesn’t matter. But still, it’s just a sour feeling.”
Snedeker and McIlroy tied for third, three strokes behind Leishman. McIlroy would have reclaimed the top spot on the Official World Golf Ranking with a victory. He has been ranked first seven times, most recently from Sept. 13-19, 2015.
Tiger Woods was among six golfers tied for ninth, sixth strokes behind Leishman. Woods was five strokes off the lead when play began Sunday. He birdied the second and sixth holes after opening his round with a bogey to move within three strokes of the lead, but was unable to move any closer.
Woods shot a 2-under-par 70 Sunday, including a bogey on the 10th hole and birdies on the 13th and 18th.
The Farmers Insurance Open was Woods’ first opportunity to become the PGA Tour’s winningest player. It was his first official PGA Tour event since winning the Zozo Championship Oct. 27 to tie Sam Snead’s record of 82 victories.
Woods next chance to set the record is expected to come in The Genesis Invitational Feb. 13-16 in Pacific Palisades, which he has announced he will play in.
Woods will not play in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which begins Thursday in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is also expected to bypass the next PGA Tour event after that, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Leishman earned $1.35 million for the victory, his fifth on the PGA Tour and first since the 2018 CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
“This is a pretty sweet victory just because I’ve come close here a few times,” said Leishman, who tied for second in the 2010 edition of the tournament, one stroke behind Ben Crane, and in 2014, one stroke behind Scott Stallings.
“From my first year on tour, I felt like this is a place I could win at and then to finally do it my 12th year on tour is really satisfying.”