A sparking 65 in the opening round of the Byron Nelson Classic has brought Marc Leishman’s 2012 US PGA Tour season to life.
And he kept up the good work throughout the week, finishing in a tie for third behind winner Jason Duffner. Leishman finished nine under the card, just two shots off the pace.
Leishman believes the key to his improvement is from the tee.
"I drove the ball a lot better than I have been," he said after the first round. "I think I only missed two or three fairways for the day. Haven’t been hitting a lot of fairways this year so far, so it’s been – it’s an easy game from the fairway, I’ll say that!
"I drove it well and held the par putts that kept the round going, and I managed — obviously two eagles helped as well."
He has been helped by a small adjustment.
"My club face was a little bit open, I found that out yesterday, and that made a little sense. I squared up the face and I was hitting the ball a lot better.
"It’s probably early – my posture has been a little hunched. I’m working on that. Old habits have been creeping back in and I’m working hard to try and get rid of old habits, which is hard to do.
"Today was a good reward for the work I’ve been doing the last three or four weeks.
According to the big-hitter from Warrnambool, a 65 has been lurking around the corner for some time.
"I have actually felt like it’s been there for about four or six weeks, it’s been really close, and I feel like I’ve been playing all right, just not getting a whole lot out of my game," he said.
"I feel like I’m doing the right things, being patient, and it’s probably taken longer than I would have liked to have a good round like this.
"Me and my caddie have been talking about doing the right things and it will take care of itself."
Despite being further down the rankings than he would have liked approaching the halfway point of the year, Leishman refuses to describe his season as a battle.
"It’s been – not a struggle, I wouldn’t say. 2010 wasn’t a bad year – obviously it wasn’t as good as 2009, when I finished top 70 on the money list, and I’m looking for the "big" win, but last year was pretty disappointing.
"I felt like I got off to a good start and then just about nothing for the rest of the year, really.
"It’s the first time since I’ve been a pro that I’ve struggled for a decent amount of time, just not hitting the ball as well as I would like to, not holing putts, and this year I feel like I’m doing everything a lot better. Obviously if you can hole some putts and hit fairways, that helps. That’s what I did today."
Leishman said he had switched his mental approach as well as making some technical changes.
"Late last year and early this year I’ve been thinking about the score too much," he said. I’m on the first tee and already I’m thinking about the third and the chances and where they’re going to come."
Winning, though, can’t be put at the back of his mind.
"I obviously still want to win, but I think I was pushing a bit too hard, thinking about it too early in the week.
Making a bogey or a couple of bogeys on the front nine and thinking, "Oh, I’m done.
"I’ve had a couple of seconds and third, and you don’t have to play perfect to win. I’m learning that. I think it takes a fair while to learn that.
"I’m just trying to do what I can to give myself a chance really. I think early in this year and late last year I was trying to push too hard. Hopefully I can do the right things."