Marc Leishman has returned home with two assignments. First is to win one of the two biggest golf trophies on the Australian calendar while the other is see his three children enjoy all the places he loved growing up in south-west Victoria.
Arriving in Warrnambool last Friday before he flies to Brisbane this week for the 86th Australian PGA Championship, which starts Thursday, Leishman, 39 is calmly plotting a course to claiming his first Joe Kirkwood Cup.
Then it will be back down to Victoria in the first week of December where he'll contest the Australian Open, which returns to the calendar for the first time since 2019.
Leishman, who was thrilled to be back in Warrnambool after three years, is hoping to play well enough to win one of Australia's two biggest events.
"Game is feeling pretty good, feel like I've been driving it well all year, it's getting better and better," Leishman told the The Standard.
"Years past, that's probably been my biggest weakness, my driving. I'd say that's turned around and probably become my biggest strength this year.
"But for me it always comes down to putting, if I can make the putts, get some confidence on the greens, I feel that's a big thing for me. Hopefully I can do that at Royal Queensland, then at Melbourne for the Australian Open.
"It will be good to get the home fans all pumped up and at least have a chance to win one of them."
Leishman said personal satisfaction was the driving force behind his ambition to clinch one of the two elusive events after growing up dreaming of a home-soil victory.
"I've had chances before but it's something that is kind of missing off my resume and I'd like to change that," he said. "I grew up watching those events on TV and seeing all the big Australian names winning them and wanting to do it one day.
"I haven't been able to do it so that's certainly something on my list and I'd love to get it done this year."
With the Australian Open returning to Melbourne and the Victoria Golf Club for the first time since 2002, Leishman is buoyant about teeing off on courses he grew up playing pennant for Commonwealth on.
"To have the Australian Open back on what are probably the best golf courses in the world is pretty special." he said. "Playing those courses, I just love the imagination you have to use particularly when they're firm. Hopefully the rain can stop and we can have some firm golf courses."
As for Royal Queensland this week, there are aspects to the largely flat course which could suit Leishman's game despite it being almost two decades since he's stepped foot on their greens.
"I haven't played there for a long time, probably 18-20 years and that course has completely changed," he said. "I do remember hearing that it's fairly open off the tee and wind will be a factor which is a good thing for me. Hopefully I can just play good and see what happens.
"It doesn't matter how your form is and what you think you might do, if you don't play well it doesn't matter, you're not going to win."
One thing Leishman is hoping for is a swell of support from the Australian fans.
"President's Cup in 2019 was the last time I played at home," he said. "To get the crowds fired up like they were there, that was probably one of my career highlights to be honest.
"It's something I'd like to do again, particularly in Melbourne for the Australian Open."
Despite a three-year hiatus from playing in his home country, Leishman won't have to wait as long to return following his Australian Open appearance.
Having left the US PGA Tour for the breakaway LIV Golf tour in August, Leishman is looking forward to the chance to play an Australian event in 2023, which was announced for Adelaide's Grange Golf Club from April 21-23.
"I'm excited to be able to make another trip home," he said. "I haven't been home during the year since I've been on tour.
"To be able to come back and play an event on the LIV tour in Australia is huge. I hear tickets are pretty much sold out already.
"To be playing on an Australian team in Australia is pretty special and something I definitely won't be taking for granted. It will be good if we can have a successful week there."
It's been a whirlwind end to the season for Leishman, who has played five official events on the LIV Golf tour since September.
You've got that team connection and you're wanting other guys to play well for you and they're wanting you to play well for them.- Marc Leishman
Leishman, who previously opened up to The Standard on his reasons behind his move to the LIV Golf tour, said he had enjoyed his time on the tour thus far and relished travelling and playing as part of a team.
"We had that before a little bit but you've got that team connection and you're wanting other guys to play well for you and they're wanting you to play well for them," he said. "It's pretty cool having that unique aspect LIV has, that team aspect.
"It's something we've never had to deal with. To do that now is pretty fun and I'm really enjoying it."
The season culminated in a second-place finish for Leishman and his all-Australian team, including current British Open champion Cam Smith, two-time Australian Open winner Matt Jones and Wade Ormsby, in the inaugural team championships in Miami in October.
While Leishman admitted to a disappointing individual start on the final day, the dynamics of the team event meant anyone could have an impact throughout the three-day play-off style tournament.
"To win both of my match-play matches was pretty cool and Cam to hole a really good putt at the end of the first day to get us through," Leishman said. "To win my match on day two to get us through to day three was pretty awesome when Cam didn't look like he was winning his match. It was good to come up with the goods when you're under the pressure."
Leishman said the team environment meant golfers were always pushing even when they were down.
"Not that I'd ever give up before but to try and fight back for your teammates to get us back in it and hold that putt on the last hole, which looked like potentially getting the guys into a play-off, that was good," Leishman said of the final day. "It was a fun week, an exciting finish, I think it was just what LIV Golf needed, was a finish like that coming down to Cam (Smith) and Dustin (Johnson)."
Enjoying a mini-break in recent weeks after "a pretty hectic months at the end of the season", Leishman is now looking forward to a summer of fun with wife Audrey and their three children, Harvey, Oliver and Eva, who will arrive in Warrnambool at the start of December before returning home to Virginia Beach in the new year.
"I'll be able to spend close to two months (in Warrnambool) which is pretty good," Leishman said. "Definitely excited, it's been so long since I've been back."
Leishman said he would look to entertain his kids with all of Warrnambool's best offerings such as Lake Petrobe and the beach.
"Just doing stuff that I did as a kid with my kids is pretty much what I'll be doing," he said. "Hopefully the weather cooperates.
"I don't think I'll be playing a whole lot of golf but pretty much making the kids and Audrey have a good time."
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