TOP 30 PLAYERS TO WATCH
No. 13: Marc Leishman
A two-win season portends of bigger things in 2018 for the affable Aussie
December 18, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
Marc Leishman shoots 69 to win at Arnold Palmer
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
For years, Marc Leishman flew under the radar, hardly noticed on the PGA TOUR.
Despite being the 2009 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year and winning the 2012 Travelers Championship, the affable Australian just kind of fell into the background of TOUR life.
Partly because of his laidback demeanor and partly because he didn’t chase the limelight, his profile only took modest upward moves when he almost won the Masters in 2013 and the Open Championship in 2015.
His amazing wife Audrey almost lost her life to sepsis in 2015. Even with that storyline, Leishman couldn’t find his way into the higher conscious of the golf public.
But in 2017, Leishman finally started making more inroads. He showed that his skill can turn up more than just the odd week.
A win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational was a long time coming and the way he surged late on Sunday would’ve made Mr. Palmer proud.
But he didn’t let things lull there. Leishman missed just three cuts all season and was in the top-10 seven times and the top-25 16 times.
One of those was a win at the BMW Championship, where he went wire-to-wire in ultra-impressive fashion after opening with a 62.
Even more impressive was it came after losing the lead on Sunday to Justin Thomas the week before at the Dell Technologies Championship. He showed a mettle reserved for those with mental toughness.
For most of this decade, the focus of Australian golf has centered on Jason Day and Adam Scott, but Leishman’s 2017 season was light years ahead of both his countrymen last season. He is now within striking distance of being the top-ranked Australian in the world, having already overtaken Scott and sniffing down Day’s neck.
He started the new season with a playoff loss to Thomas, someone whose accolades he’s looking to emulate.
He has the ability to have a year like Thomas did last year and if he does that, no one will ever be asking who Marc Leishman is anymore.
BY THE NUMBERS
How Marc Leishman ranked in Strokes Gained statistics during his last full season on the PGA TOUR.
Current 2017-18 position: 13th
Playoff appearances: 9
TOUR Championship appearances: 2
Best result: 6th (2017)
INSIGHTS FROM THE INSIDERS
PGATOUR.COM’s Insiders offer their expert views on what to expect from Marc Leishman in 2018.
TOUR INSIDER by Cameron Morfit
I like Leishman’s resilience. He had his best season in 2017 with two wins, including the BMW Championship in his first start after he’d blown a great chance to win the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston two weeks earlier. (Leishman fell apart on the back nine of his final round in Boston to finish third.) He’s shown he has the game; now he’ll need to find more consistency if he is to improve on his sixth-place FedExCup finish, add to his three TOUR wins, and take the next step to elite status.
FANTASY INSIDER by Rob Bolton
This is higher than where he belongs in draft leagues, but not by much. The talented Aussie is in his prime at 34 years of age and his results in 2017 prove it. Still a lock to start when the wind blows, he's scaled leaderboards all over the place when it hasn't thanks to a measured balancing of weapons throughout his bag. Because it took him a while to get there, the expectation is that the bubble won't last long, but that same doubt enhances his value for the faithful because their pool isn't overcrowded.
EQUIPMENT INSIDER by Jonathan Wall
Leishman added three Callaway GBB Epic metalwoods to the bag at the beginning of the year. One of two PGA TOUR winners this season with a 7-wood in the bag. Only non-Callaway club is a 58-degree Titleist Vokey SM6 wedge.
STYLE INSIDER by Greg Monteforte
The big Aussie has a closet full of classic looks with traditional fits. When Leishman tees it up in 2018, you can bet he will sport a variety of stripes and prints in his wardrobe. He would do well to improve his fashion game in the New Year by eliminating the white belts from his repertoire.