Marc Leishman looks back and ahead
BY Bruce Young | 25 Sep 2013
If Australian golfer Marc Leishman was trying to contain his excitement about being a member of next week’s Presidents Cup well then he was doing an ordinary job.
Not that he had any need to but Leishman has never been one to outwardly show his emotions but clearly his achievement in receiving a Presidents Cup call-up from International Captain Nick Price means a lot to him.
In a teleconference today with several Australian golfing journalists, Leishman spoke of the joy he experienced when he got the call from International Captain Nick Price
“I’m really excited, said Leishman from his home in Virginia Beach in the south east corner of Virginia. “It’s a huge week for the Internationals and myself and on a golf course we all know pretty well and I can’t wait to get up there and start to practice as a team,” said Leishman from his home in Virginia Beach.
Leishman was eliminated from the FedEx Cup finals at the BMW Championship but has had yet another great season on the PGA Tour, his best finish being when 4th at the Masters, beginning a stretch of tournaments where he earned nearly US$700,000 in three starts. Despite winning in Hartford in 2012 it could be argued that his finish at Augusta National was the best of his career.
“I’m hitting ball reasonably well although the short game is magnified in the format we will face at the Presidents Cup and I have been working on that side of things as we lead up to it,” added Leishman when asked about his current form and what he needs to work on prior to the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village next week.
Just a few weeks earlier Leishman had received the phone call from Price advising him that he has one of the two Captain’s picks in the side. "It was obviously a great phone call. I had his number in my phone but he called from another number and so I was not aware it was him at the start but he then said he had some good news for me and after that I can’t really remember what he said," added Leishman referring to being a little overawed by the occasion.
“He told me he would call on Tuesday afternoon to confirm one way or the other on the Tuesday prior to the announcement on Wednesday. The call did not come until late on Tuesday afternoon but it was awesome feeling to get the nod and have my name on the team and have that confirmation.”
Price has already sounded out Leishman as to just who he might like to play alongside in the Foursomes and Fourballs. “I outlined some thoughts as to who I might like to play with but Nick has been pretty involved and knows the Foursomes are going to be pretty important so we will be putting extra emphasis on the Foursomes. He seems very into it as I think we all are – very motivated to try and win the trophy for the Internationals.”
Leishman has spoken to the two other Australians in the team, Adam Scott and Jason Day, both of who have played Presidents Cup previously. "They told me it was like the last nine holes of a tournament on a Sunday but for every shot. They gave me an idea of what to expect both on and off the golf course and how it was a very busy week but an awesome one at that.
“They suggested once you get on one team you want to be on them forever. What I am also really looking forward to is the bus rides to and from the golf courses and the team dinners.”
As to how the partisan American crowd might impact on him he said. “I’m going to use the crowd as motivation. Obviously it is the first time that I have played anything like this so we shall wait and see how the crowds are but I am looking forward to it.”
Leishman was very much part of Adam Scott’s victory at Augusta National this year, playing with the winner in the final round and joining in his celebrations perhaps a little bit early. "When we did the high five after he holed the putt on the last hole I still had a three footer and it was a bit wet and a bit chilly and my hand was just ringing and a bit red when I was over that putt.
“Adam said he was sorry about that and he shouldn’t have done that to which I replied no its all good. Looking back on it it’s great to be able to sit down with him and talk about it all having been there for all the final round.”
Leishman’s effort, however, (he finished 4th) in just his second appearance at Augusta National, augurs well for his future chances. Like so many others it takes time to learn the subtleties of Augusta National. In the modern era only Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 has won the event on debut. "No matter how many times you watch it on TV or even live at the venue you have to hit it in certain places to appreciate how difficult it is from certain areas.
“Growing up you watch it but typically they are showing the best players and leading players so they are really not hitting too many bad shots. My first year at the Masters I hit a lot of really, really bad shots which I didn’t think were all that bad until I had to play from where they finished.
“Sometimes you can be 15 feet above the hole and might not be able to get it within 60 feet. You need to hit in those spots to learn how hard they are. The first year I hit it in a lot of those spots but this year I managed to avoid many of those spots. It is definitely a case of the more you play that course the easier it gets.
Leishman has slipped under the radar to a large extent on the PGA joining that Tour in 2009 after a Nationwide Tour season in 2008 that saw him equal a record setting margin of victory at an event in Midland in Texas.
In his rookie season on the PGA Tour he was named rookie of the year and made it to the Tour Championship which was perhaps not fully recognised in his home country for the achievement it was. So how does he compare his game four years ago that it is now?
“I think I am definitely a more confident golfer now. My game has progressed and although I have not necessarily performed the way I would have liked so far but things are trending the right way for next year. I had a stretch this year at the Masters, Hilton Head and the Players where I had three top tens in a row but if I can produce that sort of form more frequently in the future then the confidence will continue to grow and the Presidents Cup will also help in that regard.”
Leishman also looked ahead to beyond the Presidents Cup and the events he will play later in the year. He has a PGA Tour event in the US then one in Malaysia then will play the Australian PGA Championship on the God Coast. “I have played Royal Pines before in the Australian 4 Ball Championship a few years ago and like the golf course. There will be a lot of birdies and it should be fun. The Gold Coast is one of my favourite places actually and love going there for holidays.”
Now not likely to get a start for Australia at the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne, Leishman will head back to the USA after the PGA Championship due mainly to his desire to not spend too much time away from his family which includes the arrival of his most recent arrival Oliver. He would love to be playing the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne but indicated that while not confirmed as yet the indications are that the two other Australians higher than him in the World Rankings (namely Adam Scot and Jason Day) will be playing. “If I do get that call up however I will be ready to go.”
Leishman has developed into one of Australia’s best players over the past four years or so. Although one of those players who tends to sneak under the radar, a close analysis of the 29 year old’s results make for interesting reading. In just five short years on the PGA Tour Leishman has earned more than US$7.5 million.
It is a fair bet to say there is a lot more to come.