KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Marc Leishman played bogey-free and was tied for the lead in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Just don't get the idea this is another example of an Australian doing well at Kapalua because he stayed sharp Down Under in December.
Leishman two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th for a 4-under 69, giving him a share of the lead with Brian Harman (68) going into the weekend on the windy Plantation Course with 15 players separated by five shots.
Stuart Appleby once won three straight years at Kapalua. Geoff Ogilvy is the last player to win back-toback. Both arrived in Maui having competed in either the Australian Masters, Australian Open or Australian PGA. Appleby did all three one year.
He's played one time in the last 10 weeks. Well, one tournament, anyway.
"I went to Topgolf a couple of weeks ago," Leishman said.
It was too cold to practice at his home in Virginia Beach, so he headed to the multi-tiered golf complex where points are scored for hitting at various targets, all while having a few beers and listening to live entertainment. Thankfully, he didn't take his tour bag, just a half-dozen clubs in a tiny carry bag.
"I scored all right," he said. "I remember the first time I went there, I didn't realize there was a leaderboard at the front desk. I scored really high, and then all of a sudden all the people turn around and I'm having a couple of beers, just having fun."
One patron said to him, "You're pretty good with the tools."
He has been pretty good in windy conditions at Kapalua. Leishman didn't make as many birdies as he would have liked. His only one on the par 5s was the final hole. Even so, he joined Harman at 10-under 136 going into the weekend of this winners-only event.
Harman came on strong on the back nine, and picked up his third birdie in unlikely fashion. He was down the steep slope right of the green on the par-5 15th, and his first chip barely reached the green and rolled back down the hill. He chipped that one in for birdie, and then picked up his fifth birdie of the back nine on the 18th.
Dustin Johnson, with more experience than anyone at Kapalua, overcame a sluggish start for a 68 and was one shot behind, making him perhaps the strongest threat going into the final two rounds.
Johnson is making his eighth appearance at the Tournament of Champions. No one else in the 34-man field has played more three times. His 68 was the 19th time in 29 rounds that the world's No. 1 player has shot in the 60s, and he has yet to have a round over par.