Cromwell, CT – Marc Leishman fired an 8-under 62 on Sunday to go into the clubhouse as the leader at the Travelers Championship, then waited as every challenger fell short before claiming the title.
Leishman, whose title is his first on the PGA Tour, finished the tournament at 14-under-par 266. The Australian had twice finished as the runner-up, and tied for third at the Byron Nelson Championship in May.
But now the 28-year-old is a winner, though he had to sweat it out as numerous players overtook or challenged his lead.
Masters winner Bubba Watson (65) was at minus-13 through 13 holes, but didn't make another birdie to finish one stroke behind.
Then, Charley Hoffman (66) made it to minus-16 after 13 holes, but fell apart down the stretch. He had a double bogey at 17 and bogey at the last to slip into a tie with Watson. The two shared second place at 13-under 267.
Third-round leaders Brian Davis and Roland Thatcher presented the last big threat to Leishman's lead. But both suffered ill-timed bogeys on the back nine, and when Thatcher failed to birdie the last, the championship was Leishman's.
"It's been a while since I won a tournament. So to have this [trophy] sitting next to me, knowing it's mine for a year, it's pretty cool," said Leishman, whose last victory came on the Nationwide Tour in 2008. "It's going to take a while to sink in I think. People say they don't know how they feel...I really don't know how I feel. It's amazing."
Davis (70) and Thatcher (70) ended in a tie for fourth at minus-12, along with Tim Clark (67) and John Rollins (68).
Leishman began Sunday six strokes off the lead, and teed off well before the leaders. But he climbed toward first place thanks to a round that included no bogeys and plenty of birdies, even if some weren't textbook examples.
He reached minus-8 after making birdies at two and four, then went on a run starting from the par-5 sixth. There, he found the rough with his approach, but managed to hit his third five feet from the hole and rolled in the birdie putt.
Then, at the par-4 seventh, he dumped his tee shot into a fairway bunker. But he blasted out within seven feet of the cup before making another birdie.
Leishman, the 2009 PGA Tour rookie of the year, had a better tee shot at the par-3 eighth, sticking it close to the pin to set up a 3-foot birdie.
That put him at minus-11 heading around the turn, and he went further under par on the back nine. Leishman made short birdie putts at 13 and 14, and punctuated his round with a birdie at 17 to go into the clubhouse as the leader.
Seven groups behind him was Watson, who made four birdies on the front nine to get to minus-12. He also birdied 13, but wasn't able to make another. His tee shot found water at the 15th, and while Watson saved par, he couldn't match Leishman. Poor approaches at the final three holes left Watson with long birdie attempts, and he didn't make any.
Two groups after Watson was Hoffman, a two-time PGA winner who seemed certain to win after building a two-stroke lead. But he lost all of that advantage at the 17th, where he knocked his tee shot into water, lost his third in the rough, and two-putted for double bogey.
Hoffman stumbled his way out of a playoff at the last, a par 4. He couldn't keep his tee shot in the fairway and left his approach in a bunker. After blasting out, he was left with a 17-foot par putt and just barely missed.
"Obviously golf's hard. I played the first 16 holes pretty flawlessly," Hoffman said. "You learn from every time you've been in contention."
Davis faced an uphill battle if he was going to unseat Leishman, thanks to bogeys at 10 and 13. Those mistakes put him at minus-11, and he birdied just one of his final five holes.
Thatcher was the more credible threat. He birdied 12 and eagled 13, gains that got him to minus-13. Even after a bogey at 15, he got within a stroke thanks to an 8-foot birdie at No. 17. But needing a birdie at the last to force a playoff, Thatcher's second shot found the same bunker that Hoffman did. He bogeyed the hole to fall into a tie for fourth.
Defending champion Fredrik Jacobson (68) finished in a tie for eighth at 11- under. He was joined there by Matt Kuchar (68) and Brendon de Jonge (66).
NOTES: Leishman earned $1,080,000 for the victory...Hunter Mahan had the low round of the day, a 61 that was one off the course record...Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open last week, shot a 1-over 71 and shared 29th place at minus-6...Next week, the PGA Tour heads to Congressional Country Club in Maryland for the AT&T National. Nick Watney took a 2-stroke victory over K.J. Choi last year.