Australia’s Augusta National hoodoo may be buried but there’s another starting to rear it’s ugly head at Torrey Pines.
Australian golfers Jason Day and Marc Leishman were ruing missed putting opportunities after finishing tied second, one stroke behind American winner Scott Stallings in the US PGA Tour event at the iconic coastal course in southern California.
Both men held the lead at times in the final round but couldn’t breakthrough as Australia’s first winner at Torrey Pines – on Australia Day no less – instead taking the runner-up tally for the country to seven.
Leishman holds two of those having also finished second in 2010 while Bruce Crampton (1973), Steve Elkington (1989), Nathan Green (2006) and Michael Sim (2010) came up one placing short of victory.
Stallings claimed his third career win on the US PGA tour with a final round four-under-68 lifting him to nine-under 279.
Day (68) and Leishman (71) had to settle for a five-way tie with South Korea’s K.J. Choi (66), Canadian Graham DeLaet (68) and American Pat Perez (70).
Day, consistently one of the best putters on the tour, ranked a rare 30th in the field for strokes gained putting while Leishman led the field in greens in regulation but was 66th of the 73 players who made it to Sunday on the greens.
For world No.10 Day, a three-putt on the opening hole in the final round and a cruel lip out trying to save par on the 17th stuck in his craw most.
The 26-year-old now has six runner-up finishes and three third places on the US Tour with just the one victory in 2010.
“I played phenomenal golf but I missed so many putts out there,” Day said. “I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies but they just wouldn’t go.
“It wasn’t the right timing for a bogey on 17.
“The lip out was a little harsh so if there is disappointment it is that I didn’t have my best putting week but I am excited for my next start at Pebble Beach.”
“Once again I am close and moving forward. It is a good start to the season to finish second.
“If I keep putting myself in these positions hopefully the ball will drop my way and I’ll have a couple of wins this year, maybe more.”
Leishman, who led the field in putting in his other start this season in Hawaii, couldn’t hide his annoyance although he has likely sewn up a spot in the lucrative World Golf Championships Match Play event next month.
“I am a bit disappointed. I hit the ball well enough all week to win by quite a few but just couldn’t hole the putts,” he said.
“A couple putts here and there go in and it’s a different story but second is still good.
“It is something to build on, a fifth and a second this year so hopefully trending in the right direction for next week.”
Both players could have forced a playoff with eagle on the final hole but Day’s 60-foot putt and Leishman’s 100-yard wedge shot missed by a few centimetres.