LAKE FOREST, IL ... Australian Marc Leishman held off a late charge Sunday afternoon by 2011 BMW Championship winner and Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose to claim the J.K. Wadley Trophy in wire-to-wire fashion at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest.
Leishman entered the event’s final round with a five-shot lead that seemed all but insurmountable considering the flurry of birdies the 33-year-old made during the previous three rounds. That lead dwindled to just two on the back nine Sunday as Rose, playing in the group ahead alongside Jason Day, birdied three of his first four holes after the turn.
Leishman responded by birdieing four of his last five and strolled away from Rose and the rest of the field. His 23-under par on the week tied the tournament record set by Dustin Johnson in 2016.
“It's a long week when you lead every day,” Leishman said after the round. “It takes the energy out of you. I was pretty tired last night and didn't sleep very well.
“That five-shot lead is just enough that you shouldn't get beat but not quite enough that you are out of reach.”
Rose, who started the day seven off the lead, finished runner-up.
“I worked pretty hard to get myself into it,” Rose said following the round. “I sensed from the crowd a little bit with a few holes to go that I was getting close. Leish really put in it gear there.”
Leishman’s win makes him only the third Australian ever to hoist the J.K. Wadley Trophy. Robert Allenby was the first player in 2000 at Cog Hill. Day won at Conway Farms in 2015.
With the win, Leishman moves to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings heading to next week’s TOUR Championship in Atlanta. He also is expected to jump into the top 15 in the World Golf Rankings. His victory Sunday was his second of this PGA TOUR season. The first came in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I always thought I was good enough to get into the Top 20 but, you know, thinking you're good enough to do it and doing it are different things,” he said. “I thought my game was in a good enough spot but, you know, having one win in 8 years, it's hard to imagine winning twice in one year and two big events like they were.