LOS ANGELES, May 21, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Aaron Wise claimed his first US PGA Tour title Sunday, firing six birdies in a six-under 66 to win the Byron Nelson by three strokes over Australian Marc Leishman.
The 21-year-old, who started the day tied for the lead with Leishman, took full advantage of the ideal scoring conditions that prevailed at Trinity Forest when play finally got underway after a four-hour weather delay.
In the tournament’s first edition at the new par-71 layout south of Dallas, Wise’s 23-under par total of 261 crushed the previous scoring record of 19-under 261 set by Rory Sabbatini at the par-70 TPC Four Seasons in Irving in 2009.
Trinity Forest, a links-style layout with neither tress nor water hazards, offered up a birdie bonanza when softened by rain.
Wise joined the action with back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth.
He then birdied four in a row from the seventh through the 10th to set himself up for a march to victory on the back nine — where one of the most pressing questions he faced was whether he would be able to finish the round before darkness fell.
Leishman, who launched the week with a career-best 61, just couldn’t keep pace.
The 34-year-old, seeking a third US PGA Tour title, had an eagle and four birdies but tossed in three bogeys that doomed his bid.
Leishman signed for a three-under par 68 that put him alone in second on 264.
“It’s awesome,” said Wise, who was coming off a career-best PGA Tour finish of second two weeks ago at Quail Hollow which he said gave him “just a ton of self-belief”.
“I felt oddly calm all day long,” added Wise, the 2016 NCAA collegiate champion who was making his 18th tour start as a member. “And to play as good as I did, bogey-free, today was awesome.”
South African Branden Grace and Americans JJ Spaun and Keith Mitchell shared third on 265.
Grace matched his career best 62 posted at last year’s British Open for a 19-under total while Spaun and Mitchell both carded 63s.
Grace had eight birdies and an eagle with one bogey marring his card.
Spaun had eight birdies in his eight-under effort and Mitchell had six birdies and an eagle.
Ryan Blaum got in on the birdie action his six birdies on the front nine including five in a row from the fifth through the ninth. He cooled off with three bogeys and two birdies coming in to card a 66.
His total of 268 left him tied with Kevin Na (68) and Jimmy Walker (67).