In his fourth season and in his 96th start Marc Leishman cracked the code.
The 2009 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year had finished second twice and top-10 seven times but as he neared a century of tournament starts in the US Leishman was beginning to wonder when the breakthrough win would come.
One of six Aussies confirmed in the field for this week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, Leishman returns to Connecticut as a five-time PGA TOUR winner eight years after coming from the clouds to pick up his first.
Rounds of 68-66 safely carried Leishman through to the weekend in the 2012 tournament but an even-par 70 in round three meant that he began the final day six strokes adrift of the leaders.
Winning was the furthest thing from his mind. He went out with the intention of trying to push into the top-10 but a bogey-free 8-under 62 and late mistakes by Charley Hoffman delivered a maiden win in unexpected circumstances.
“The difference between that tournament and perhaps tournaments that I didn’t win was going to bed the night before or teeing off that morning not thinking about winning,” Leishman recalls.
“Going to sleep the Saturday night I certainly wasn’t thinking of winning the tournament. I was hoping I could play well and maybe get a top-10 but obviously as things progressed through the day those expectations changed.
“All of a sudden when you’re not thinking of the result the results come.
“That was a pretty big learning curve for me, to realise that just because you think about winning doesn’t mean you’re going to win.
“You’ve got to think about what you can do to get better and how you can play well. That’s what’s going to lead to winning.
“That’s a really good lesson not only for me but anyone who would read this that just thinking about good results is not necessarily going to lead to good results. To be honest, it’s probably not going to lead to good results.
“It was something that will be a highlight of my career forever.”
A missed cut first up at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club was not a completely unexpected result for Leishman who spent the coronavirus shutdown maintaining his physical fitness, spending time with his family and tending to his beloved back lawn.
Despite the layoff the Victorian intends to stick to his regular schedule of not playing more than three weeks in succession as he targets the FedEx Cup and the rescheduled major championships.
“It’s been on the courses where there’s a lot of trouble out there and you’ve got to play to not hit into the trouble where I’ve maybe played my best golf,” Leishman said of his fondness for TPC River Highlands where he has three further top-20 finishes.
“The days where I know I’ve got to play good to shoot a good score and even give myself half a chance to win the tournament.
“I just don’t want to get to the Tour Championship and be worn out. There is so much to play for that week.
“The Tour Championship, the majors, that’s what I’m going for.
“Obviously I want to play well every week that I play but I’m keeping in mind the fact that I’m not getting any younger and the opportunities to win majors are not going to be around forever.
“I want to be fresh at those events where I want to play the best.”