Day and Leishman each shot 67 and are near the lead at Harbour Town. (Lecka/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Four days ago, an Australian won the Green Jacket for the first time. Could a plaid one be next?
Marc Leishman and Jason Day each shot 67 Thursday at Harbour Town, where they are two shots off the lead of Brian Davis after the opening round of the RBC Heritage.
"Playing last week it felt like there was pressure the whole week," said Day, who finished third at the Masters. "Coming into this week it's pretty laid back, but it is a TOUR event and I want to do well."
A bogey-free round was a good way to start.
"It was pretty boring, actually," Day said. "I like boring rounds, though, right? Boring rounds are pretty nice to have."
The same could be said for Leishman's. He also had four birdies and no bogeys.
"I'm working hard to not have that letdown," said Leishman, who finished fourth last week. "I've got two weeks off after this week. I'm planning on being in contention all week, and then really enjoying my two weeks off."
Neither would be the first Aussie to win here. Four have done it before -- most recently Aaron Baddeley in 2006.
Still, bouncing back from a disappointing finish at the Masters -- both made critical bogeys late to fall short of reaching a playoff -- wasn't easy.
"I just had to come into this week, make sure that I got enough rest and just try to keep that momentum rolling," Day said. "Normally when you see guys playing well, normally it goes in bunches."
Similarly, Leishman said when he arrived at Harbour Town he felt exhausted.
"The energy was really low and legs felt heavy," Leishman continued. "But I actually went in the ocean yesterday and did a bit of stretching. The legs feel a little bit better, feel refreshed."
So is Australia's place in golf it seems.
Earlier in the week, Stuart Appleby said he hoped Scott's Masters win would be a boost to the nation of just 23 million.
The last time Australians won in back-to-back weeks on TOUR? In 2010, when Day and Scott won the HP Byron Nelson Championship and Valero Texas Open, respectively.
"There was a lot of interest back home with the Masters," Leishman said. "With Scotty winning, but with a few of us having a chance to win. It's exciting for the future of Australian golf."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Think Marc Leishman doesn't have a killer instinct? Think again. He bore down and beat his dad for the club championship back home in Warnambool, Australia when he was 13.
"I didn't know what pressure was when I was 13," the good-natured Leishman said.
Well, Leishman is going to find out this weekend at Augusta National as he tries to win his first major championship. The 29-year-old starts the third round one shot off the lead held by fellow Aussie Jason Day.
Leishman, who set the first-round pace with a 66, is 5 under and tied with Fred Couples. He'll play in the penultimate group on Saturday with Angel Cabrera, who rode a 69 in the third round to a tie at 4 under.
Gone are the winds that gusted to 20 mph on Friday. The sun is abundant and the temperature is in the mid-70s. Judging by the early results, Augusta National is yielding birdies again, too.
So can you attack on Saturday, asked the Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.
"As much as you can attack this course," Leishman said. "... There's no reason we can't fire at some pins, make a few birdies and excite the crowd."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- As low as scores were in the opening round, the opposite has been true in Round 2. The Masters has been a bit formulaic that way in recent years with a benign setup on Thursday, a difficult one on Friday, somewhere in between on Saturday and back to a little more birdie-friendly on Sunday.
Only a smattering of players are under par so far and the lead, at least for now, remains at 6 under.
Will anyone be able to make a move this afternoon? Given the aforementioned formula and some difficult pin placements, it seems unlikely.
Here's a look at who to watch for this afternoon:
Marc Leishman, Jose Maria Olazabal, T.J. Vogel, 12:35 p.m.: No Aussie has ever won the Masters -- a fact Leishman is acutely aware of. If that's going to change, he'll need to continue roll the ball like he did on Thursday when he had just 25 putts. Picking the brain of 1999 winner Olazabal wouldn't be a bad idea, either.
Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter, Steven Fox, 1:30 p.m.: Only three players have successfully defended here and it looks like it will stay that way after Watson opened with a 75. He's going to have to work just to make the cut. Ditto Poulter, who despite feeling this is his best place to win a major, labored to a 76. The last defending champ to miss the cut, by the way, was Mike Weir in 2004.
Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Scott Piercy, 1:41 p.m.: The second round historically has been pretty good to Woods, who has half dozen rounds in the 60s here on Fridays and nine rounds under par. He's only broken 70 once in the last seven years, however. Of course with scoring as difficult as it has been so far, anything under par should leave Woods in good position going into the weekend.
Rickie Fowler, Padraig Harrington, Jason Day, 1:52 p.m.: There was a lot to like about Fowler's opening 68 -- mostly that he had two double bogeys on the card and still shot 4 under. His aggressiveness could work against him, however, given the pin positions. Expect Day, who is 2 under, to stay in contention, too. His game fits this course well and two years ago he tied for second here.
Leishman birdied four of his last six holes Thursday to shoot 66. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- When Marc Leishman played his first Masters three years ago, he found himself thinking about what he'd seen on television when he was growing up in Australia: Fred Couples' ball staying up on the back on No. 12 in 1992, someone chipping in on 11.
"I probably should have came here a few more times before the tournament so I didn't do that," he admitted. "But I didn't, and I found myself doing that during the tournament, which wasn't great."
Neither were his scores: a 72 and 79 to miss the cut. "I just hit it in a lot of bad spots and I think I learned a lot by doing that," he continued.
Thursday, he fared considerably better, shooting a 66 to take the early lead.
"You just put all your mistakes in the memory bank and try and not make them again," Leishman said.
He didn't make many in the opening round this year, making just one bogey and seven birdies, including four in a row on Nos. 13 through 16. The last of those came from across the green, or as Leishman put it, "another zip code."
But the key to his round came before he even teed it up Thursday. During his practice round on Wednesday, Leishman birdied Nos. 10, 11 and 12 and eagled the par-5 13th.
"I haven't been on a run like that ever around this golf course," said Leishman, who is well aware that an Australian has never won a Green Jacket. "It was good to know that it's possible, because it felt impossible last time I was here."
To preview the 2013 PGA TOUR season, PGATOUR.COM is counting down the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2013. For an archive page with the top 100 players and for an explanation on how the list was compiled, click here .
2013 PREVIEW: Aussie Marc Leishman is coming off his best season where he won for the first time and posted career-highs in FedExCup points and earnings. Capitalizing on that confidence boost will be important in the new year.
2012 DEFINING MOMENT: Without question, it was the bogey-free 62 Leishman shot in the final round of the Travelers Championship. He started the day six strokes off the pace and had to wait nearly two-and-a-half hours to see whether his score would be good enough for the Aussie's inaugural TOUR win. –- Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ALBERS’ QUICK TAKE: I followed him on Sunday at the Travelers and thought his final-round 62 was great stuff, but would be well short of a win. I was wrong. Leishman’s win at the Travelers might have been the best back-door victory of the season. He only missed four cuts this year but also only had two top-10 finishes. -- Fred Albers, SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio
BOLTON’S FANTASY OUTLOOK: Authored one of the rounds of the year with a closing 62 at the Travelers Championship to secure his first PGA TOUR victory. However, he then failed to book a top 25 in his last eight starts and didn't break 70 in 18 of his last 19 rounds. Didn't play the Fall Series, but competed in both unofficial events on the Asian Swing. Since he was Rookie of the Year in 2009, his total driving, greens in regulation and all-around splits have been worse than the previous season. It suggests that he's still very much searching for a comfort zone. Now that he's fully exempt through 2014, perhaps he can just go play. Stick with a spot in the heart of your roster. -- Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy expert
2012 QUICK REVIEW
Regular Season ranking
Final Playoffs ranking
|Best finishes||1st||Travelers Championship|
|By the Numbers
Cuts made: 19
Rounds played: 84
Top-10 finishes: 2
Money List rank: 41st
Driving distance: 99th
Driving accuracy: 168th
Greens in regulation: 150th
Strokes gained-putting: 161st
Scoring average: 90th
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
What is your prediction for Marc Leishman in 2013? Fill out the form below and let us know
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Players not otherwise eligible for the British Open have this week and next to try to earn a spot in the field at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
Marc Leishman earned one of two spots by virtue of a mini-money list (cumulative earnings from THE PLAYERS Championship, FedEx St. Jude Classic, U.S. Open, Travelers Championship, AT&T National and The Greenbrier Classic).
Leishman, who won for the first time two weeks ago in Hartford, was all but guaranteed a spot with just over $1.15 million in earnings coming into this week -- and a $400,000-plus lead over second place.
The Aussie finished his week here at 4 over and near the bottom of the leaderboard.
Michael Thompson, who was second on that money list, did not play this week. He could still earn the second spot if no one on the leaderboard passes him.
Others near Thompson at the start of the week will not. John Merrick was just over $100,000 behind Merrick, but like Leishman he finished near the bottom of the leaderboard at even par for the week following a final-round 73.
Ditto Charley Hoffman, who ended the week 1 over, and Jhonattan Vegas, who missed the cut.
Another spot will go to the top finisher here (and at next week’s John Deere Classic) not otherwise eligible.
Marc Leishman meets with the media and talks about his win at the Travelers and AT&T National's special attention paid to U.S. military troops.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
Marc Leishman was celebrating his first PGA TOUR victory with friends on Sunday night, and with every toast, it seemed, there was something else to look forward to in the coming months.
The Masters? That was a given. The PGA? Check. And Leishman was pretty sure he would be in the field in Akron in August for his first World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Leishman didn't realize he was leading the mini-money list for entry into next month’s British Open, though. And he'd forgotten about the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the island of Maui in January.
"It was funny, actually," Leishman said. "… Things just kept popping up. ... Everything happened so quick that it was just good things kept coming throughout the night. It's like Maui, got the tournaments in Asia that I'll be in later in the year. Yeah, it's been a pretty good couple of days."
Leishman, who is playing this week at the AT&T National, didn't try to qualify for the British Open because the Aussie is currently trying to get his green card and he didn't think he would be able to leave the U.S.
He's been in America on temporary basis with a P-1A visa as an internationally recognized athlete. He's married to an American, though, and the couple has a young son so Leishman can now apply for permanent residency.
The Aussie spoke with his immigration lawyers earlier this week. He was approved for an "advanced parole" travel document a week ago so he can hopefully leave the U.S. and compete at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in the season’s third major.
"Apparently it takes 30 days to come through, so hopefully it gets here before the British, otherwise I'm not sure what we're going to do," Leishman said.
Leishman is nothing if not patient, though. He closed with a 62 at TPC River Highlands and had to wait two-and-a-half hours to see if his score would hold up as Charley Hoffman squandered a two-stroke lead on the final two holes and several other players fell short.
"I know how easy it was to do what Charley did because I did it
on Saturday," Leishman said. "I played well most of Saturday, and I
think I was at 9 under going into 17 trying to get to 10 to give
myself a real crack on Sunday and double bogeyed 17 and bogeyed 18.
"Obviously you take a win any way you can get it. You'd rather go out and make a birdie on the last hole and have all the jubilation than do what happened, but having said that, I'm not wishing that anything else happened. ... Obviously apart from getting married and having my son born, it was a big moment for me."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Titleist is debuting some new firepower this week at the AT&T National, namely its 913 series of drivers.
The company hasn’t introduced a new driver in two years, but the 913 is the next step in the “900” family (with “9” being its designation for metalwoods and “13” for the model year), with a few subtle differences from the 910 series.
Titleist loyalists will notice the striping on the sole and new markings on the face, as well as a weight cartridge at the rear of the club. The cartridges can be swapped out to optimize launch conditions, and like the 910 models the new 913 has the SureFit Tour hosel to adjust lie and loft.
Like the 910, the 913 has a D2 and D3 model, with the D2 being slightly bigger.
Bobby Gates took the first swings with the club on Monday at the range at Congressional Country Club, with Titleist players Seung-Yul Noh, Jimmy Walker and Brendan Steele also getting licks in. Rory McIlroy has one in Ireland this week, where he’ll play in the European Tour’s Irish Open.
The clubs will go on sale to the public sometime in the fall, retailing for around $399.
MR. 59: After dalliances with several flatsticks, Stuart Appleby returned to the Odyssey White Hot XG 330 mallet that he shot 59 with at The Greenbrier Classic in 2010.
“I really had to assess what was going on in my game and where I had to improve,” he said. “I was chasing around, moving putters. Didn’t know when I was going to hit the hole. It just started sapping the energy.”
Sure enough, he finished T18 at the Travelers for his first top-20 finish of the season.
COLORFUL: More of Callaway’s udesign-inspired Razr Fit drivers are making the rounds on the PGA TOUR. At the Travelers, J.J. Killeen used a purple one in honor of his TCU roots, while Danny Lee used a blue driver that was actually built for Fredrik Jacobson, but the Swede declined to use it in play so Callaway reps gave it to Lee.
WINNER’S BAG: Marc Leishman at the Travelers
Driver: Titleist 910D3 (UST Mamiya AXIVCore, 7.5 degrees)
Fairway wood: Titleist 910F (13.5 degrees)
Hybrid: Mizuno Fli-Hi (18 degrees)
Irons: Titleist AP2 (3-4), MB (5-9)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled (PW, 54, 58 degrees)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2 Mid-slant T10
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Check out the June nominees for PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis.
Who’s was the best PGA TOUR player in June? Now, you can help determine the winner.
On the first Wednesday of each month, fans can vote online at PGATOUR.COM for one of four players nominated for their outstanding play the previous month by a panel of national media.
The four nominees for June are: Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson and Marc Leighman.
The voting ends on the following Sunday, and the player with the most votes will be named the PGA TOUR Player of the Month. In addition, Avis, the “Official Rental Car Company” of the PGA TOUR, will present the winner with a $50,000 check payable to his charity of choice.
Results will be posted next Wednesday on PGATOUR.COM.
And if you want to state your case for why your favorite player should win the June award, just fill out the form below and let us know.