Marc Leishman understands everyone will have an opinion on his move to LIV Golf.
But the Warrmabool golfing export is content with his decision and the reasons behind leaving the PGA tour for the controversial Saudi-backed tour. The 38-year-old was among the tour's latest signings last week, alongside countryman and world number two Cam Smith.
The pair played their first LIV event on the weekend, International Boston.
Leishman, speaking with The Standard, said there was several reasons behind his move, and was comfortable with any surrounding criticism.
"There was definitely a lot of outside noise, and some outspoken golfers, older golfers," he said. "Most of the criticism, you see it on social media. I do read a little bit and it seems people are a little more opinionated on social media.
"The way I look at it, whenever you make a change in your life, whatever it is, you're always going to get some criticism, whether it's family or people who know you or don't know you. And everyone is entitled to an opinion, that's your opinion, it's not right or wrong.
"I'll respect it whether they agree with me or not. But at the same time, I'm entitled to make a decision that's best for me.
"I'll do what's best for me and my family. Whether it gets criticism or not, I can't control how other people feel. I'm comfortable with my decision, as is Cam and all the guys that have been there."
I'll do what's best for me and my family. Whether it gets criticism or not, I can't control how other people feel.- Marc Leishman
Diving into his motivations, Leishman said family, finances and freedom to visit Australia more often were among his top reasons to deviate from the PGA and join the new tour.
"It's a lot more time with the family, it's a lighter schedule," he said of the eight event series. "Being able to spend more time here in Virginia Beach... and the age my kids are at."
Since turning professional in 2005, Leishman said he hadn't spent more than seven consecutive days at home and never had an off-season.
"Particularly my little girl, she's pretty shattered every time I head out of town for a tournament," he said. "Like my job, there is good parts and tough parts. Being a pro golfer is great and I love it, that is just the hard part about it."
Money was another factor and while Leishman didn't disclose his signing bonus when asked, he said they "certainly made it worth my while". Smith's signing bonus was reported to be $140 million. Players also win up to $4 million for individual wins and share in $3 million in team events.
Despite his exodus from the PGA, Leishman said he didn't have a bad word about that tour, where he had six wins, and was content to continue on had LIV Golf not surfaced.
"I'm a competitive person, so I would have kept the same schedule, of 22-24 events a year," he said. "It certainly isn't a bad way to make a living."
Leishman said the appeal of a tour event in Australia next year was another exciting prospect. He said he had only played one PGA tour event, a Presidents Cup, in Australia. A LIV Golf's feeder competition could also play a number of events in Australia.
"This opportunity to play an event in Australia is huge," he said. "I think it will be around the April-time frame. Golf in Australia is getting better but losing the Australian Masters was a pretty big blow.
"I think getting the players who play other tours around the world back to Australia, get the kids out there so they can watch Cam Smith, who they watch on TV every week in person - I remember doing that with Greg Norman and Ian Baker-Finch.
"I think if kids can see their idols play golf in person it's going to be good for golf, and we can't do that if we're not playing events in Australia."
The opportunity to spend more time in his home country was also enticing from a family perspective.
"I haven't been able to come home in three years," Leishman said. "I'll spend two months there at the end of this year and early next year. That's something I could never do.
"That's going to be nice to spend a bit of time in Warrnambool and go on a family holiday. I'd love my kids to see parts of Australia. It's an exciting time in my career. Just a change, it freshens things up."
Leishman admits to feeling a rare bout of nerves ahead of his first LIV Golf event in Boston last week.
"Something new and different, it was good to feel like that again," he said.
Leishman said the first event was "amazing" and exceeded all expectations going in.
"It seemed like it was a really well-run tournament," he said. "Off the golf course it was a fun week, every one stayed in the same hotel and all the tee times were 1.15pm every day. You have the morning free and you go down and everyone's having breakfast together. Every warms up on the range together... so you're seeing a lot of the other guys.
"It was very different to what the tour was like, where everyone pretty much keeps to themselves. And the crowds were great. It's almost like a party atmosphere, there is music playing on every hole. It was a really relaxed atmosphere and one I enjoyed."
He said he didn't play "exactly how I'd like", though an impressive second round helped him finish tied 24th at four under par for the 54-hole tournament.
"You have different courses and that was probably not my dream golf course, it probably wasn't completely suited to my game," he said. "I'm excited to get to Chicago (next) where I've won before. And I enjoy playing in the wind, with Chicago the windy city. To have that first one behind us... I'm excited about the rest of the year."
I'm excited to get to Chicago (next) where I've won before.- Marc Leishman
Leishman also played a team event, forming an all-Australian foursome with Smith, Wade Ormsby and Matt Jones. He said it added another element to play for during the event, with the team finishing tied for sixth.
"It's good to look on the leaderboard and see how the other guys are going," he said. "It's funny, if you're missing the cut on the tour event on the Friday afternoon there is really nothing to play for.
"No matter how you're playing in any round, there is always something to play for. If you can have a couple of birdies and get your score to count, it could mean a lot at the end of the week."
While the golfing world appears split between LIV Golf and PGA tour, Leishman sees a way for both to co-exist.
"There is plenty of other tours in the world, the European tour, the Asian tour, I've played on a lot of them," he said. "I don't think LIV is trying to take over the golfing world, they're just trying to make another league that's exciting and the format's different."
Leishman, who is now suspended from competing on the PGA, said he couldn't see a reason for players to be denied the chance to play both.
"I certainly don't want to be playing 25-30 events a year which is what you'd have to do," he said. "But if people want to do that, I don't really see a reason why you shouldn't be able to play both. But it's a pretty touchy subject in the golf world at the moment."
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