Leishman eyes back-to-back Aussie Masters wins
It was a question I also found myself asking on my own Masters debut in 1996 when Greg Norman looked destined to become Australia’s first player to be fitted with the most sought after item of clothing in golf.
However destiny worked against Norman winning the one tournament he cherished more than any other.
Marc Leishman during round one of the 2013 Masters
Ever since I set foot on Augusta National that week and then right up until Sunday morning on April 14th last year there has been that one question asked of every Australian teeing up in the Masters.
But not now, not ever again!
As well, another Australian in Marc Leishman returns to Augusta National next month knowing also ‘that’ question will no longer be asked also of him – ‘When is an Australian going to win the Masters?’
Twelve months ago Leishman found himself co-leader after the opening round, alongside Spaniard Sergio Garcia after shooting a six under par 66.
Leishman maintained his challenge over the second and third rounds to head into the final day trailing by just two strokes the leading duo of American Brandt Snedeker and former Augusta winner Angel Cabrera.
And despite it being just his second showing at Augusta, Leishman refused to go away remaining two strokes from the front after 13 holes before eventually settling for a stand up and take notice share of fourth place with Tiger Woods on five under par.
However the 2013 Masters was all about Leishman’s fellow Australian and final round playing partner Adam Scott.
Scott became the first Australian-born winner of the Masters and whose performance last year ensured much of the nation was late arriving for work given it was Monday morning ‘Down Under’.
“After Adam won the Masters last year it’s just going to be nice going back to Augusta and not hear that question get asked that’s been asked every year at Augusta and that’s ‘when is an Australian going to win the Masters’”, he said.
“Hopefully I can duplicate what Adam achieved last year.”
“It’s a golf course where you have to concentrate fully on every shot and being Augusta and the Masters, it’s nice knowing you are going back to the same venue each year.”
“I played well in my first round in 2010 shooting a 72 but missed the cut then with a 76 but last year I was really pleased with the way I performed.”
“I don’t know what it is about Augusta that brought out my good play last year, and maybe it’s just a case of some golf courses you like and others just don’t suit your game.”
“But then while there are four majors every year it just seems that going back to Augusta gets me more excited than perhaps the other three venues, and I guess that’s also because there is such a long gap between the PGA Championship in August and the Masters that you look forward to Augusta.”
And Leishman has spoken about the eye-catching photograph of Scott taken on the 18th green when Scott birdied the last hole in regulation play to force his way into the play-off with Cabrera.
In fact, Leishman played the fourth round alongside Scott in an all-Australian two-ball that Sunday afternoon but here in the background of the photograph was Leishman pumping his fist in delight for his fellow Australian.
“I was just so thrilled for Adam and while I would obviously had preferred it was myself holing the birdie putt, it was simply a case that while I didn’t have a chance to win it was all about wishing Adam on to victory,” he said.
“I was hoping either he or Jason would take out the tournament, and when Jason didn’t finish the way he wanted to it was all down to Scotty.”
“Scotty’s a friend of mine and I was just excited for him. My reaction wasn’t planned or I wasn’t thinking that I would get much attention from it after the photograph came out because it was just a simple reaction to Scotty holing the putt.”
In fact, Leishman’s reaction was just moments before he ‘high-fived’ Scott and before Leishman stepped up to putt out in a round of 72.
“Scotty hit my hand so hard that I ended-up with this bright red hand, as it was a good, solid high five and it sort of stung a bit as it had been raining and my hand was a little cold,” smiled Leishman.
“So there wasn’t much feeling in my right hand when I stood over that putt but it was only three feet.”
“But it was all worth it and I was just so pleased for Scotty.”
“I felt as though I played really well there at Augusta last year and I’m looking forward to much the same this year.”