Australian golfer Marc Leishman opened with an eagle and held it together in the middle of his round for a 5-under 66, giving him a two-shot lead over Sergio Garcia going into the third and final round of LIV Golf Tucson.
And the Aussie had to contend with more than just his opponents while on course, when a rattlesnake stopped him in his tracks.
The snake was captured on broadcast as Leishman walked past it. The reptile slithered away into a bush, allowing the golfers to continue.
Leishman said he had fallen into a habit of letting a rough stretch ruin his round. The Australian dropped only one shot at the Gallery Golf Club in the high desert and delivered one last birdie on the par-5 17th to reach 11-under 131.
“I had a really hot start, the cooled on the back nine,” said Leishman, who was 4-under for his round through eight holes. “But I didn’t let it get away from me.”
Garcia, whose last victory anywhere was in Mississippi more than two years ago, had a 65 that could have been slightly better if not for missing a two-foot par putt on the 16th hole. He at least was able to finish with a birdie on his last hole at No.17.
Garcia’s team, the Fireballs, had a one-shot lead in the team competition.
“We’re right there. We need another good day tomorrow,” Garcia said.
Louis Oosthuizen was in a four-player group at 8-under 134, though none of the others had quite the tease at the end of the round like the South African.
Finishing on the par-4 18th, Oosthuizen’s approach landed a few feet short of the flag and struck the pin, rolling back off a false front into the fairway. His pitch for birdie was headed for the pin and spun in and out of the cup.
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At that point, he turned away and covered his face. He made the par for a 68.
“It pitched exactly where I wanted it to, it hit the pin and off the green. Same look with the chip. I thought I was to chip it in,” Oosthuizen said.
“I’m standing over the putt thinking, ‘You better make this or it’s going to be a bad ending’.”
He was joined at 134 by Charles Howell III (65), Brendan Steele (65) and Cameron Tringale (66), who never won on the PGA Tour before signing up for LIV Golf last season.
Howell won the first LIV Golf event of its second season last month at Mayakoba.
Phil Mickelson had a bogey-free round, making four birdies in an eight-hole stretch that led to a 67. He was tied for 10th, six shots out of the lead. His team, which includes Steele, was one shot behind Garcia’s team.
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