A man renowned for his supporting role in Australia’s Major Masters breakthrough eight years ago recognises he’s never had a better chance to take centre stage.
Marc Leishman enters this week’s US Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course as the No.2 ranked Australian of the seven in the field but with arguably the greatest sense of expectation.
He has been close before… really close.
In 2015 he missed out to Zach Johnson in a four-hole aggregate playoff for the Open Championship at St Andrews. Earlier this year he left Augusta National in a tie for fifth and stung that he didn’t make a greater impression on Sunday and, of course, he will always own a place in Australian golf folklore as the fist-pumping countryman willing Adam Scott onto the 2013 Masters crown as he himself finished tied for fourth.
Yet this opportunity to play a Major championship where he has tasted success on the PGA TOUR previously is a rare one that Leishman has had his eye on for a while.
“It’s a course I like. As far as U.S. Open courses, it’s as good as it’ll get for me,” Leishman offered on Tuesday, the winner at Torrey Pines on Australia Day last year and twice a runner-up at the venue.
“But it’s still going to be really tough. Confidence is good, but I’m never one to go into a US Open overconfident by any means.
“I’ve played that course probably more than any other course that I’ve played on tour,” Leishman told Fox Sports.
“Given, it will be different, but it’s still the same golf course and you have to hit quality shots no matter where you are or what time of year it is.
“The hardest part about that place apart from the narrow fairways and the rough is reading the greens. I feel like I read the greens well.
“Hoping this will be my best shot at a US Open but time will tell.”
If his own playing history is any form of measurement the US Open is the Major least likely for Leishman.
His best finish is a tie for 16th at Oakmont Country Club and has missed the cut in four of his previous nine appearances, admitting that the deep rough for which the US Open is renowned is a problem he is still trying to solve.
“The rough around the greens is going to be pretty brutal and that’s the hardest part for me of US Opens and life on the PGA TOUR, is that rough around the greens,” Leishman said on Fox Sports.
“I’m still trying to learn that. I feel like I’ve made some pretty good inroads in the last few years and hoping not to be in it too much this year.”
Conceding that with only two former champions to come from this country that Australians haven’t always fared well in the US Open, Leishman believes that the firm conditions may play into the hands of his fellow Aussies.
“It’s going to be a firm US Open, which is good,” Leishman said.
“I don’t think they’re going to have to do too much to the course to make it really tough. It’s normally 10-ish under winds at the Farmers Insurance Open. Six is going to be a par-4, and then the greens are going to be running faster and be a lot firmer.
“It’s going to be really, really difficult to hit greens even from the fairway. You’re going to have to hit good shots.
“I think it’s going to be a typical US Open, but it’s going to be sort of a US Open/British Open hybrid sort of thing with how firm it’s going to be.”