MARC Leishman attributes maturity and a relaxed mental approach to his career-best form on the world’s golf stage.
The Warrnambool professional posted his third top-three result of the year in yesterday’s World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio.
Leishman carded a three-under 67 in the final round to finish third at 12 under, three shots behind winner Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland. Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who started the day with a three-shot lead, was second at 13 under. Leishman was pleased with his performance, his best result in an elite WGC event, which are second in standing to golf’s four majors.
It helped him leap 12 places up the world rankings to a career-high 39.
He also climbed 13 spots in the US PGA Tour’s Fed Ex Cup play-off points standings to 26, putting him in the box seat to qualify for all four weeks of the lucrative season-ending series, which begins later this month.
“I played pretty well,” he said.
“The way Rory is playing it’s hard to beat him. I played solid and to finish third in a big event like this was good. I was happy with it.”
His impressive performance came two weeks after he was tied for fifth in the British Open, boosting his confidence ahead of the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship, at Valhalla Golf Club later this week.
“I’ve been playing good and feeling good on the course. The confidence is there,” Leishman said.
“I’m still confident but I’m not over confident. I still know everyone starts at zero on Thursday morning. I still have to do a lot of hard work and prepare right.”
Leishman’s third place prizemoney of more than US$520,000 helped him smash through the US$2 million mark in a season for the first time since he joined the US PGA Tour in 2009. It also helped him go beyond US$10million for his career.
“It’s been a good year, obviously the results have been good. It’s nice to have this type of year and hopefully I can start making a habit of it for the rest of my career,” Leishman said.
He said his game had developed significantly.
“I guess the progress I have been making, the experience, is helping now with these results,” he said. “I’m a lot better than I was. My game is a lot better and I guess I’m getting older. This is when golfers are supposed to start hitting their peak because of the mental side of things.
“They are not as frustrated. It’s not a good thing to be frustrated or being hard on yourself. I was terrible at that and that’s a big thing.
“Of course I care but I know a bogey or double bogey is not going to change my life. Obviously I want to do well but when you try too hard in golf that’s when you start playing terrible.”
Leishman said he had worked on his swing with Australian coach Dennis McDade.
He said time with American-based Australian sports psychologist Neale Smith in the past two-and-a-half years was also paying off.
“I’m really, really happy off the golf course and I think it’s showing on the golf course,” Leishman said.
“I don’t have to worry about keeping my job for next year. I have already got my card, and I’m in good form.
“I’m just happy.”
Leishman said he was more comfortable on the tour, having played alongside the world’s best for six years. He said he knew his game was capable of matching the stars.
He is looking forward to the US PGA which starts Thursday night (AEST), despite having never seen the famed Valhalla layout.
“I’ve done a bit of research,” Leishman said.
“I’ve seen photos on the internet of holes but I will see the course tomorrow and play nine.”
He intends playing the course twice before the majors.
“It will be long rough, fast greens,” Leishman said.
“It’s meant to be a pretty tough course.
“I really like the tougher golf courses.”