KUALA LUMPUR • The emotional roller coaster Marc Leishman has been on in recent years has made him "appreciate" the little things more after surging to a five-stroke victory at the US$7 million (S$9.6 million) CIMB Classic tournament yesterday.
His fourth PGA Tour victory looked a distant dream in 2015 when the 34-year-old almost quit golf in April that year after his wife Audrey nearly died from acute respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome.
She was given a 5 per cent chance of survival, but managed to pull through. Following his closing round of seven-under 65 at TPC Kuala Lumpur to win the only PGA Tour-sanctioned event in South-east Asia with a 26-under 262 total, the Australian admitted it felt "unbelievable".
"It was a very tough time that we went through, but it certainly made us stronger as people, made us appreciate just the everyday things, our kids more, friends, family, everything," Leishman said of his wife's illness.
"I won't say it made golf less important, but it made me realise that golf's not life or death. As long as I give it my best shot, that's what it's all about.
"I'm really happy with everything, it's nice to get another win. It had been over a year since I'd won (last year's BMW Championship), I'd had a few chances and hadn't capitalised. The kids will be happy that I'm bringing home a trophy."
He made eight birdies, including a putt from nearly 50 feet on the par-four ninth, and only a solitary bogey to end ahead of Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (66), and the American duo of Chesson Hadley (66) and Bronson Burgoon (68). The trio finished on 21-under 267.
"I played very well, I shot 30 on the front nine. I started thinking if I could shoot seven under, it would give me the chance. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to play as well on the back nine, but four rounds in the 60s is always good," said Grillo.
Two-time champion and former world No. 1 Justin Thomas (64) closed with three birdies in his last three holes to secure joint-fifth place at 268, where he was joined by Mexican Abraham Ancer (65), South Africa's Louis Oosthizen (69) and fellow Americans Charles Howell III (67) and Gary Woodland (71).
Overnight joint leader Shubhankar Sharma of India started in a shaky manner before coming back strongly with four birdies in four holes from the seventh, but he made three straight bogeys from the 11th to shoot a 72 and finished joint-10th.
The PGA Tour moves to South Korea for the US$9.5 million Oct 18-21 CJ Cup, where Leishman finished runner-up to Thomas last year.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS