IT WAS the most significant putt of Marc Leishman’s career.
The Arnold Palmer Invitational. The biggest stage in world golf. Warrnambool’s own, poised to make history at the 16th hole of Bay Hill, in Orlando.
Leishman produced a game-changing 15 and half metre eagle putt to snatch the lead from American duo Charley Hoffman and Kevin Kisner late on in Florida to all but sew up the prestigious tournament.
He went on to make par on the final two holes, a feat which secured the trophy for the Warrnambool born-and-raised golfer.
It also single-handedly booked the 33-year-old exemption for the US PGA Championship in August and his projected ranking of world number 32 should also ensure he qualifies for the US and British opens.
Leishman emotionally embraced his children – Harvey and Oliver – and pregnant wife Audrey to the applause of a packed house at the drop of his final putt.
He told pgatour.com he used his 5-year-old son, Harvey, for inspiration as he stood over the putt that would lock away the come-from-behind victory.
“Some weird things go through your head, but I was thinking – because we have a putting green upstairs – that Harvey could make this putt. You have to make it,” he said.
“There’s a lot of reasons that I wanted to play good,” Leishman said.
“My family is here, it’s just a special day and couldn’t have worked out any better.”
To add to the occasion, Leishman’s triumph was the first at the tournament since Arnold Palmer’s death in September of last year.
He said the victory had inspired a surge of confidence in his play after a strong start to the year, in which he has missed the cut just once from eight occasions.
"You see guys win and he (Palmer) is waiting there on the back of the green and to not have that is obviously very sad, but to win here is just a dream come true," Leishman said.
"Mr. Palmer was an awesome guy who I was lucky enough to meet a few times.
"To honour him was huge. And it was the first time I won a tournament with my family here. “It's all come together."
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