Date: January 05, 2015

Grant Report – Leishman eyes Olympic spot

Victorian US PGA Tour star Marc Leishman has set a spot in the Australian team for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics as a major goal.

Leishman and compatriot Steven Bowditch, whose form has improved dramatically over the past year, are both anxious to play for Olympic gold after seeing their rankings improve to world No. 46 and 89 respectively.

“It would be great to represent your country," Leishman said. "We don’t really get too many chances to do that so hopefully I play well enough next year to be in the mix to get in the team."

World No.3 Adam Scott and No.8 Jason Day will clearly be the first selected if available but Bowditch said the Olympics would be in the back of his mind over the next year.

“The Olympics if definitely something I’d aim for,” he said.

“Obviously you’ve got Adam Scott and Jason Day who would be in there if available but it’s something I’d love to do and if the opportunity came along I’d love to take it.

“Representing our country is not something we get to do much, walking out in an opening ceremony would be something you’d remember for the rest of your life.”

Scott said recently he thought the event at the Olympics should be for amateurs but Leishman believed organisers needed to see how it went first.

“Everyone’s got an opinion on it. It probably should be amateur but the guys who are running it have done plenty of research on why they think the pros should play,” he said. “I guess they’ll get more viewers if the pros are playing.

“They’ve done the right thing and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes and I think you need to see golf at the Olympics first to see how its accepted and go from there.”

Ian Baker-Finch, who won the British Open in 1991, is the captain of the Australian Olympic golf team.

Meanwhile, New South Welshman Jake Higginbottom has staged a late rally to regain his full status on the Asian Tour with a fourth place finish at the final event of the 2014 season, the Dubai Open.

Higginbottom began the week in 65th position on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, needing to finish in the top 10 to slip inside the cut-off point for playing status of 60.

He narrowly made the cut, moved closer with a third round 69 then bounded home with a closing 64 at the Els Club to finish fourth in the event behind winner Arjun Atwal and 53rd on the Order of Merit.

Among the other Australians inside the top 60 are Victorian pros Marcus Both, Nathan Holman and Kieran Pratt.

The Asian Tour kicks off with the Malaysian Open starting on February 5.

By: Robert Grant