Luke Elvy: Australia’s Day and Marc Off The Leish
Despite another bold attempt, Marc Leishman and Jason Day came up just short of victory in the latest PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines.
While it’s a venue that seems to suit our boys, given its similarities to courses back home, it’s the fifth time Australians have finished runner-up in the last nine years. (Leishman twice, Day, Michael Sim & Nathan Green)
However, the disappointment of not winning is minimal as the ‘good vibes’ surrounding Australian golf continue, especially for these two players as they enter their prime.
For Leishman, who turned 30 last October, he’s now at an age where his best years are immediately ahead of him and his game is showing signs of being complete. According to his coach Denis McDade, his T4 at last years’ Masters Tournament instilled the missing link – belief.
The 2009 Rookie of the Year parlayed that breakout performance into top 10s at other significant events like The Heritage and Players Championship. Add to that an impressive Presidents Cup debut and the boy from Warrnambool returned to Australia at the end of 2013 a man.
With his home life balanced by a beautiful wife (Audrey) and two young boys (Harvey & Ollie), the second was born just days after his T12 at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, Leishman is now ready to step up to the world’s elite.
A 5th and T2 in his first two starts of 2014, suggests he is close and will likely add to his lone PGA Tour title, the 2012 Travellers Championship soon. Throw in an ever improving world ranking (55th) and he’ll now be a regular at all majors and WGC’s, which will only add to his level of experience. It will surprise no one if he’s in the world’s top 20 by years end.
For Day, it’s not about becoming world class, more the world’s best, which very few doubt. His prodigious talent has been known ever since he won the World Junior at Torrey Pines a decade ago.
What concerned those with the best insight into the game was his inability to close when in position to win. However, he erased that with a stirring victory at the World Cup at Royal Melbourne just days after losing 8 family members in that killer Typhoon in the Philippines, which put golf in perspective.
Now 26 and a father to 18-month old boy Dash, the Queenslander might be four years younger than Leishman but he’s actually been on tour a year longer and is mature beyond his years. Better still, after a soul-searching 2012, Day has found a better work-life balance and is hell-bent on realising his boyhood dream of becoming world number one.
To do that, he’ll need to go from consistent contender to multiple winner, especially at the majors. And after watching Adam Scott end Australia’s Masters hoodoo when he let his own hopes slip in the rain last April, you can bet Day won’t let another Green Jacket go if he’s in a similar position this year at Augusta. Better judges than me have said, “It’s not a case of if but when.”
For a while there we were hoping someone would step out of Greg Norman’s shadow, now that Adam Scott has done it, look for Day and Leishman to find themselves in the spotlight as well.