Continuing our countdown towards the first tee shot of this year’s Masters, we look into another player’s winning credentials.
Today it is the turn of Australia’s Marc Leishman, who in 2017 picked up his second and third PGA Tour titles and almost added a fourth at the CJ Cup earlier this season. Leishman was ultimately denied by Justin Thomas that week, but will be looking to finish top of the pile at Augusta.
Apart from his T4 finish in 2013, in which he played the final round with countryman and winner of the Green Jacket, Adam Scott it has been a fairly dismal time for Leishman at Augusta.
Missing three of your first five cuts anywhere is frustrating but it will be amplified in an event such as this. Leishman will need to draw positive memories from 2013 as oppose to dwelling on failures in other seasons as he looks to take the next step in his career.
Australians have fared well in the past, with Adam Scott winning five years ago, surprisingly becoming the first from his country to do so.
Greg Norman should have won here in 1996, but blew a six-shot lead in the final round and that was also after finishing runner-up in 1986 and 1987.
Leishman along with Scott and Jason Day will all look to fly the flag and all have a realistic chance of winning.
Why he can win the 2018 Masters
Leishman is a much more refined player this season, following his two wins on the PGA Tour in 2017.
Twice a winner since his last start here proves that he is a completely different prospect coming into this year’s renewal and it would be naive to rule him out, despite his previous struggles.
A good all-round game, with plenty of power off the tee, it would be no surprise to see Leishman don a Green Jacket, even if his past record suggests Augusta is not the course for him.
He only managed to finish T43 in 2017, but this was only the second time he made the weekend so that in itself is a slight positive.
Now the World No.16 and a three-time winner on Tour, just making the weekend will not do and it is time for Leishman to elevate his game, especially at a course that looked all the world like it would suit after his efforts in 2013.
Whilst he hasn’t performed at his best here, Leishman does have three top-6 finishes in his last four starts in the Open Championship and were it not for finding a divot with his tee shot on the first play-off hole in the 2015 renewal, he may well be a major winner already. He is clearly a player who’s potential can lead him to a major championship and he would love to follow in Scott’s footsteps and do it here.
In 2013, Leishman not only finished in top-4, he had a realistic chance of winning, but pushed too hard at the Par-5 15th on Sunday, when he dunked his second shot into the pond. Leishman made bogey, but the bravery to go for an eagle which would have tied the lead showed great character.
Maybe now, a better, more experienced Leishman may be at a point where he isn’t pushing too hard on Sunday and can play the course how he wants to, instead of feeling forced into shots when it matters most.