With eye on Aussie fires, Leishman (68) contending at Sony

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With one eye on the crisis in his homeland, Marc Leishman has worked his way onto the early leaderboard at the Sony Open.

Leishman battled swirling winds during the opening round at Waialae Country Club, posting a 2-under 68 that ordinarily would have left him in the middle of the pack on the vintage layout. But given the conditions, it put him near the top and three shots behind early leader Collin Morikawa.

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“That was pretty brutal,” Leishman told reporters. “It was as good as I’ve played for a while, and really, really happy with 2 under.”

Leishman is no stranger to success in Honolulu, with four top-20 finishes since 2013. That includes a T-3 result last year, when he closed with a 6-under 64. He managed four birdies on the day, including three in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 14-18.

Those circles on the scorecard are especially important for Leishman given the wildfires that continue to burn in his native Australia. Leishman is one of several players pledging charitable donations based on birdies and eagles this week, with the PGA Tour matching donations up to $125,000.

Smith, Leishman among those pledging donations for Australian bushfires

“Any fire is bad no matter the size, but this is a, it’s like on a huge, huge scale. So the whole country is in dire straits, really,” Leishman said. “We don’t know when they’re going to stop and there is a lot of people suffering. So if we can donate some money, help them out … They need to rebuild houses. So yeah, just hoping I can play good and donate a lot.”