Date: July 14, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes, St Andrews

Leishman’s St Andrews theory put to test

Marc Leishman is preparing to bust one of St Andrews’ misconceptions.

The widely held belief among those who’ve visited the home of golf is that the Old Course favours those who draw the ball off the tee with wide expanses to the left of many fairways on the “out-and-back” layout.

But the powerful Victorian firmly believes that an attack from the right side of the fairways will pay greater dividends.

“It’s wide off the tee, but you still have to drive it well (to contend,” Leishman said today.

“People say you can hit it left here all day, which you can. But if you’re hitting it left all day, there are swales and bumps and hollows that are positioned (there).

“If you are left on the other fairway, you have to hit through them and the bounce is so unpredictable.

“So if you can hug the trouble on the right but avoid it, it’s a big advantage because you have better angles into the greens.

“The best (position) requires a little bit of risk (but) it depends on the wind’s direction, too.

“Everything is important because it’s a major, but if you can drive it well around here, it gives you a pretty good head start.”

Leishman has two top-five major championship finishes, including a fifth behind world No.1 Rory McIlroy at Royal Liverpool last year.

He’s confident that result will stand him in good stead again this week at his second Open tilt around St Andrews –and fifth overall – after his T60 in 2010.

“This is pretty special being at St Andrews,” he said.

“I mainly take confidence knowing that I can contend in a British Open.

“Last year it wasn’t super firm early in the week either. I know the forecast here this week is for rain and it’s a little wet, but it’s still bouncy and you can get quite a bit of run.

“I hit a two-iron off the first today and it must have hit a downslope and ran out to 280 yards (255m).

“So it still runs out, it’s not like it’s hitting and burying. I take a lot out of (last year), but it’s a new tournament and you have to play well again.”

And should the weather turn nasty, his upbringing on links courses in his home around Victoria’s Western District might come in handy.

“On the ground not really, it’s completely different grasses. But growing up and learning to play in a heavy wind like it is here definitely doesn’t hurt.

“I’ve played a lot in the wind (at Warrnambool and Port Fairy) and the way I look at it, it doesn’t hurt.

“Some other guys do, too. And I’m not saying I hope it blows 40 miles an hour, but it would be nice if there’s a little bit of wind and makes it interesting.”