MARC Leishman has set his sights on becoming the first Australian to win the $US10 million FedEx Cup after romping to a record-breaking victory in the US PGA Tour’s penultimate playoffs event.
The 33-year-old Australian took his finest season to new heights with a five- shot victory at the BMW Championship in Chicago on Sunday, breaking Tiger Woods’ tournament record with his 23-under-par 261 score.
The win lifted Leishman into the top five seedings for this week’s season-ending Tour Championship, meaning a victory at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club will guarantee he claims the lucrative season-long points title and its $US10 million bonus.
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Five clear going into the final round, Leishman iced his third PGA Tour tour title, the second this season, with a four-under-par 67 at Conway Farms to win from Rickie Fowler (67) and Justin Rose (65) who tied for second. Countryman Jason Day continued his late-season resurgence with a 69 to be outright fourth at 16 under.
His score was one shot better than the existing 72-hole tournament record of 262 posted by Woods in 2007 and Leishman is projected to climb to a career-high world ranking of No.13.
With his season also featuring a third, seven top-10s and 15 top-25 results, Leishman says his attention now turns to becoming Australia’s first FedEx Cup winner since the play-offs were created in 2007.
“No doubt. There’s been a lot of great Australian players before me,” said Leishman, referring to perennial FedEx contenders Day and Adam Scott.
“I was lucky enough to be the first Aussie to win the PGA Tour rookie of the year award, and it’d be special to be first to win the FedEx Cup.”
Bouncing back from blowing a 54-hole lead at the previous play-offs event in Boston two weeks ago, where he tied third, Leishman says a $10 million-plus payday will be hard to block out.
“The FedEx Cup is a realistic goal now, I feel, after these last two events,” he said.
“I’ll go there just trying to win another tournament. It’ll be hard not to think about it but I’ll have to.” Day believes Leishman deserves all the plaudits he is finally getting. “I think he’s a great player,” said Day, who climbed up the FedEx standings to 15th and is an outside chance of claiming the Cup.
“He’s answering the call on a big stage like the FedExCup play-offs. “I think there’s still a ton left in the tank for him.” Rounding out the Australian contingent on the leaderboard was Brisbane’s Cameron Smith, who suffered a crushing end to his season with a 70 dropping him to 12th at 11-under and he missed out on advancing to the 30-man Tour Championship.