The cruel mistress that is golf left Marc Leishman with mixed feelings as he exited Oakmont today.
With three missed cuts and at T51 finish in three previous US Open tilts, a T18 finish today was something that clearly enthused the Victorian.
That he fired the most birdies in a dramatic final round with the famous course having its greens ramped up to dangerous speeds was also something to write home to Warrnambool about.
But that both came after he was tied 10th at halfway before turning in a “terrible” third-round 77 left him again leaving the year’s second major in a quandary: does he go home thinking of his best US Open finish or the one that got away?
“Both. Obviously it would have been nice to have not had 77 yesterday, but the way I played … I played terrible. I deserved to shoot 77,” the self-effacing Leishman said.
“I just didn’t play great, hit it in the wrong spots a few times and you can’t do it around here.
“If you play this place enough, you’re gonna have a few scores like that.
“So, yeah, it was disappointing. But coming into the week, my expectations were higher than they have been in the past, but they still weren’t through the roof.
“It was nice to play well those first two days, play well today, know that I can shoot a score in a US Open, which I have never done really.”
Leishman charged out of the blocks in his final round with birdies on each of the first three holes.
He said switching up to a more attacking approach for the final round, despite the savage pin placements, was the key.
“I’ve been hitting iron off the first and second all week and I hit driver up both of them today,” he said.
“I looked at it kind of like a free day after playing so bad yesterday – go out there and have some fun and hopefully make some birdies and if not, it’s Father’s Day, so I’ll go home and see my boys.
“It was nice to be hitting driver and hitting good shots, giving myself good birdie opportunities. It was obviously a great way to start, but it would have been nice if I could have kept it going.”
Leishman cooled off with bogeys on the sixth and seventh holes, then added two more and a double on the par-three 16th to four more back-nine birdies to cap his rollercoaster ride.
“All week if you’re not hitting good shots, it’s brutal. Greens were a lot quicker today, pins were tougher, so I felt like I played pretty smart, a little bit more aggressive off the tee and it paid off.
“I had a lot of birdies, (just) a few too many bogeys and doubles, but all up, I’m pretty happy.
“I haven’t done very well at all in the US Opens in the past, so it’s nice.
“I don’t think (future US Open) courses are going to get any harder than this … but next year hopefully I’ll take the good stuff away from this and keep the big numbers out of it which I couldn’t do yesterday.”