MARC Leishman hasn’t seen his mum and dad, face-to-face, for more than a year.
Their annual three trips to the USA have been impossible because of COVID-19 restrictions. Leishman hasn’t been able to get to Warrnambool, where once or twice a year he rocks up for the Saturday comp, either.
The 37-year-old Australian, an 11-time winner around the world, has also had to resort to video sessions with his coach, who is on the other side of the planet.
It’s the sort of combination which could leave many professional sportspeople strung-out, anxious that without their crucial support network, there’s no way they could be at their best.
But days out from the US PGA Championship, the second major of 2021, and despite the longings for “home”, Leishman believes he’s well placed as he has even been to make that step and become a major champion.
In the past month he has finished in a tie for fifth at the US Masters, then backed that up at the Zurich Classic when he teamed up with fellow Aussie, Cameron Smith, to clinch the title for “Team Mullet”.
There was more to that win than just a couple of Aussies getting together as well.
The strong bond Leishman and Smith have formed, which started when they teamed up at the 2018 World Cup and now extends to contests over who has the best lawn, has been massive given they are, along with all the Australians on the US PGA Tour, stranded with each other.
Its effect on Leishman’s capacity to play, and to be playing so well, is one the Victorian can’t ignore.
“He’s in the same boat as me, he hasn’t seen his parents for over a year either. I know he’s really close with his mum and dad, as I am,” Leishman said of Smith.
“Just being Australian, and being around Australians, is therapeutic in itself.
“I have my family, my wife and kids, and all her family and that support has been amazing. But it is hard to not be able to go home.
“It’s nice to have someone you can relate to pretty closely. The Australian sense of humour is quite different to anywhere else, you can say stuff to each other than maybe you can’t say to people from other countries, and they get it, he gets it.
“It’s just good to have a mate over here.”
Marc Leishman said this might be one of his best chances at a major. not sure he’s saying that to boost his confidence either
Leishman, who is ranked 38 in the world, will have seven compatriots at the PGA when it kicks-off, which is the biggest major contingent for Australia in a long time.
It’s been a while since an Australian major victory too. Jason Day’s 2015 US PGA Championship win was the last time an Aussie male lifted a trophy.
Leishman has six top-10 finishes in major championships, four top-five finishes too, his best result being making a playoff at the 2015 British Open.
The PGA hasn’t been a happy hunting ground, but this time, with the way he’s feeling, and paying, Leishman thinks he has “half a chance” at the Kiawah Island course.
“I felt good this year at the Masters, and I think the major courses this year, particularly the PGA and the US Open, normally those courses don’t set-up at all for me,” he said.
“This year I think I am half a chance if I can play well. I’m most excited about those.
Leishman believes all his experiences from 37 majors, being in contention, getting close, has given him the knowledge he believes could help get him over the line.
“It is a matter of just being there, going through that experience and learning, knowing you don’t have to hit every shot perfect,” he said.
“Those weeks, it’s even more important to not get frustrated with, not even poor shots, but poor results on certain holes.
“They are tiring weeks and you have to conserve energy so you are fresh on Sunday afternoon. That’s the biggest thing for me. It’s more about the preparation, rather than the things I have done right or wrong in the tournament.
“All the tournaments I have played well in, the preparation has been light and I have felt fresh at the end.
“It’s just matter of executing, getting some breaks, and getting over the line.”
2021 US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Ocean Course, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Defending champion, Colin Morikawa
$11 Rory McIlroy
$12 Jordan Spieth
$13 Justin Thomas
$14 Jon Rahm
$15 Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau
THE AUSSIES (world ranking)
$26 Cameron Smith (25)
$41 Marc Leishman (38)
$51 Jason Day (62)
$67 Adam Scott (36)
$101 Matt Jones (56)
$151 Lucas Herbert (94)
$301 Jason Scrivener (115)
$126 Cameron Davis (125)
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