Leishman leaving his Marc

Marc Leishman’s rookie US Tour season in 2009 remains one of the most exciting in recent years.

The Victorian left his mark in many ways but after a second year of competing full time on golf’s biggest stage, Leishman is determined to step more into the spotlight in 2011, and as Bernie McGuire discovered that means nothing less than a first success.

Leishman leaving his Marc Leishman leaving his Marc

It was always going to be a tough act to follow when you burst onto the $180m US Tour in the swashbuckling manner that Marc Leishman did in 2009.

The Warrnambool wonder stamped his presence – big time – in a rookie season earning close to $US2m in prizemoney.

He duelled headlong with Tiger Woods, posted a career-low round and then dramatically gate-crashed the season ending Tour Championship.

There could not have been a more ‘take notice of me’ display with Leishman finishing 20th on the money list and then being named PGA Tour ‘Rookie of the Year’. Leishman did virtually everything in 2009 but win.

Last year (2010) was very much a mirror of his freshman season with Leishman collecting nearly $US 1.5m to take his career earnings to well over $US 3m in prize money in only two years on the US Tour.

He capped the year by grabbing a second place finish in the Farmers Insurance Open along with a share of seventh in the AT & T National at Torrey Pines. Leishman had three other top-20 and also got to play in all four Majors in 2010.

There was also the even greater joy of getting married to his long-time American-born girlfriend, Audrey.

But if there was any disappointment for the Victorian it was ending his second full season in 44th place on the money list and down two dozen spots on his brilliant debut season of a year earlier.

However not for a moment is Leishman complaining. It’s just that he’s raised the bar a few notches and naturally he now expects more of himself.

“I’m pretty pleased with last year’s season but it wasn’t an awesome year by any means,” he told Golfer Monthly. “But then I did manage to stay inside the top-50 on the money list which isn’t a bad thing.”

“It’s just good to know that even though I didn’t have a really good year, a couple of good results kept me right up there. I guess that also reflects that I am becoming more consistent and even if I am not playing that well, I can still make the halfway cut.”

“Hopefully, I can build on the last two years and get myself into the winner’s circle this year.”

Leishman brought his new wife to Australia over the Christmas break for her first festive season down under.

It was a happy occasion for the newlyweds who had initially planned to get married in the second week in April but those plans had to be shelved when Leishman’s lofty top-20 U.S. Tour money list standing earned him an Augusta National invitation.

He had met Audrey Hills in Williamsburg, Virginia during a Nationwide Tour stop in 2006. So the wedding was put on hold till April 24 when they were married at Virginia Beach, where Leishman had earlier decided to base himself in the States.

Two items Leishman collected last April now take pride of place in his home – his wedding certificate and the invitation from Augusta National to compete in the 2010 US Masters.

“To get the letter with the Augusta National logo on the envelope was a huge buzz,” he said. “It was my first Masters invitation and I’ve got it framed and on the wall in my office.”

Leishman was among 17 US Masters rookies last year and he celebrated by renting a five-bedroom house to accommodate his parents, his then fiancee and also his caddie.

Yet while Leishman is regarded as one of the longest hitters off the tee, a trait always handy at Augusta National, his lowly ranked ‘greens in regulation’ standing spoilt hopes of playing all four rounds as he missed the cut with scores of 72-79.

It was much the same at June’s US Open at Pebble Beach with Leishman sitting out the last two days following scores of 77-74.

St. Andrews was a little kinder as Leishman walked from the Old Course having played all four rounds at the Home of Golf with scores of 73-71-72-75.

Leishman found Whistling Straits a little more to his liking in ending in a share of 48th place following rounds of 71-73-72-73 that was a dozen spots higher than a month earlier in Scotland.

“Having played in all four majors in 2010 was a great experience and it’s where you want to be every year, and that’s playing the Majors and the WGCs,” he said.

“Playing the Masters was just awesome, and even though it was intimidating the more you play it, the more comfortable you will be. I had waited all my life to get to Augusta, so that’s now one of the big highlights of my career, having played the Masters.

“I also really enjoyed Pebble Beach while the Old Course at St. Andrews always impresses, and to have played all four rounds in my first British Open was something I was very proud of. Then to go to Whistling Straits and finish inside the top-50 was pretty pleasing too.”

Now, with the benefit of two full years experience competing on the US Tour, Leishman heads into 2011 with a first Tour win high on his New Year’s wish list.

And though he’s been enjoying the festive season, Leishman has also been working hard on his game under the watchful eye of Denis McDade.

McDade believes it will be the ‘hard-wired’ approach Leishman displayed in qualifying for the 2009 Tour Championship that will be the key to a first US Tour win.

“It’s just obvious watching Marc, that he should go out and shoot the best score he could in qualifying for last year’s Tour Championship,” said McDade who also coaches reigning Ballantines Championship winner, Marcus Fraser.

“Every time Marc goes out and plays, he just plays. It’s almost like a gift. Also he’s not the sort of player to protect a score.

“If he’s five under par at the turn, then he thinks he should probably shoot five-under on the backside, and that’s a great attribute. He just goes with the flow and keeps playing.”

“That’s just the way he’s hard-wired.”

Leishman’s come a lot way from winning twice just four years ago on the Von Nida Tour, while he’s matured remarkably from the then 13-year who joined his father to win the Warrnambool Club Championship.

Next for this affable Aussie is the reward of a maiden US Tour victory.