Golf: Australia's Marc Leishman cruises to CIMB Classic win to break drought after birdie blitz on front nine

Marc Leishman plays a shot on the 16th fairway during the final round of the 2018 CIMB Classic golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur, on Oct 14, 2018.
Marc Leishman plays a shot on the 16th fairway during the final round of the 2018 CIMB Classic golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur, on Oct 14, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Australian Marc Leishman burned 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 (Oct 14).

Frustrated by a number of near-misses in a winless 2017-18, his claimed his fourth PGA Tour victory in his first start of the new season at the US$7 million (S$9.7 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."

Unheralded Americans Chesson Hadley (66) and Bronson Burgoon (68) finished joint runners-up with Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (66) on 21-under, while headliner and twice champion Justin Thomas was tied for fifth a stroke further back after closing strongly with a 64.

Joint overnight leader with American Gary Woodland (71) and Indian youngster Shubhankar Sharma (72), 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 45-foot 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 No. 13 but he steadied at the par-four 16th, rolling in a delightful curling birdie putt from 15 feet.

That left the final holes a procession, and a beaming Leishman strolled up the 18th fairway greeting fans back in his home town of Warrnambool, Victoria through a TV camera.

Having had two runner-up 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."