Refreshed by his annual break back home in Warrnambool, Marc Leishman has returned to the US PGA Tour with a vengeance.
The popular Victorian opened up at the Sony Open in Honolulu to record a fifth placed finish, shooting a total of 13 under par to be just four shots adrift of American winner Jimmy Walker.
Leishman, who has always had an affinity with the layout, never finishing lower than 27th, headed the Australian contingent.
World No.2 Adam Scott and Robert Allenby, in a return to form, threatened through the early rounds but Scott was undone by a third round 71 on the par 70 course.
Scott eventually finished in a tie for eighth at 10 under par while Allenby had a share of 20th.
Of the other Australians in the field, Steven Bowditch and Greg Chalmers both tied for 51st, John Senden was 61st and Stuart Appleby back in a share of 65th.
Leishman each year returns home with his family for a three week rest and it clearly pays off.
He is based in the US with his American wife Audrey and their two sons — Harvey, who turns two this month, and Oliver, five months — and told his home paper, the Warrnambool Standard, he wants them to grow up knowing how much the south-west means to him.
He has even tried to replicate the country surrounds of Warrnambool where he lives at Virginia Beach.
The main city in Virginia has a one million plus population but the Leishmans live near the beach with hectares of cornfields nearby.
“I’d hate to live with concrete all around me,” Leishman said.
“I like to have a bit of space. Warrnambool’s definitely put that in me I think, and being near the beach as well. I don’t think I’d be able to live anywhere where there was no beach.”
Each November the couple returns to Warrnambool, scheduling their visit between Australian golf tournaments, to see Leishman’s parents Paul and Pelita, his sister and grandparents and extended family and friends.
The couple celebrate Christmas in Warrnambool every second year, alternating between Warrnambool and the US.
“They’re all here so I’ve got a lot of things to come back to,” Leishman said.
“There’s so many good memories here. It will be good once the boys are old enough to take them down to the beach and go to the rock pools and find crabs and all that cool stuff."
He hopes to instil in his boys the importance of Warrnambool and Australia to him.
“It would be good if it felt like a second home for them. My mum and dad are here, their grandparents. We’ll come back here as much as we can, for sure.”
And then there are the surrounding golf courses, which helped him form his game, none more so than the highly respected Port Fairy layout.
He said locals were fortunate to have quality courses at Warrnambool and Port Fairy in such close proximity. He has a soft spot for the Warrnambool course, where he spent much of his teenage years perfecting his swing.
“That’s just what I loved and I enjoyed it. It wasn’t like I was going out there to work. I was going out there to have fun and I was getting better because I was having fun. It’s how it generally works.
“It’s a good course to learn at because they’ve got really hilly greens. You have to hit it straight but there’s certain holes where if you’ve got length you can take advantage of them, if you hit them long off the tee.
“You’ve got to be long and straight and putt good, which is probably the three most important things in golf. I think it’s a really good course to develop your game on."
By: Robert Grant