MARC Leishman is looking to take his game to a new level at this week’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes in England.
The Warrnambool professional, who broke through for his maiden win on the USPGA Tour last month, yesterday left his United States base for the trip across the Atlantic for golf’s third major event of the year.
“Now that I’ve got that win, the next step is trying to contend in a major,” Leishman told The Standard.
“I’ve won a tour event, I’ve been in contention quite a few times, but the next step is to be in contention in a major.”
Leishman, who has played in four majors since joining the US PGA Tour in 2009, is set to contest his second British Open.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s one of the better courses,” he said. “It’s probably my favourite of the year.”
He is also looking forward to experiencing conditions like those he honed his game on in Warrnambool as a junior.
“I’ve been over here five years now and I haven’t played in a whole lot of wind,” he said.
“But you never forget how to do it. For the last 10 years I’ve tried to get out of the wind shots and hit the ball higher.”
After a gruelling three-week stretch of three tournaments in searing heat, Leishman said he had used a week off the tour to practise shots he will need in the expected windy conditions.
“I’ve played links golf plenty of times,” he said.
Leishman said he had never experienced Royal Lytham and St Annes famous 206 bunkers before. But he is comfortable in English conditions having played a Bristish Amateur championship down the road from this week’s course.
The 28-year-old, who had feared his participation in the Open would be jeopardised by immigration rules, said he was relieved to get the all-clear from US authorities to travel while his residency application was being considered.
Following his win on the US PGA Tour, Leishman said his schedule had altered for the rest of the season.
While he has maintained the number of the events he had planned to contest, he would be stepping up to World Golf Championship events that are restricted to elite players, with no half-way cuts and more prizemoney.
He said this week’s British Open kicked off a hectic second half of the season for him, with WGC events, the final major of the year — the US PGA — and then the first three weeks of the rich US PGA Tour playoff series, which carries double prizemoney and ranking points.