The Open: Leishman’s personal plight puts history bid into context

Marc Leishman rued missing the chance to make Open history at St Andrews – but then immediately put his golf back into its context.
Australia's Marc Leishman on the 18th during day four of The Open Championship 2015 at St AndrewsAustralia's Marc Leishman on the 18th during day four of The Open Championship 2015 at St Andrews
Australia's Marc Leishman on the 18th during day four of The Open Championship 2015 at St Andrews

The Australian threatened to shoot the first 62 in a major championship yesterday as he collected eight birdies in the first 15 holes of his third round to shoot up the leaderboard.

With scoring conditions good, two more birdies over the last three would have set a new major benchmark, but he could only make pars and settled for a bogey-free 64. He admitted there was some disappointment but, after what he has been through this year, it mattered little.

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Three months ago Leishman nearly lost his wife as she fell seriously ill with toxic shock syndrome, a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection during which she was put into an induced coma. She is now recovering but Leishman, a 31-year-old father of two young children, feared the worst.

He said: “I don’t think about what happened but it has definitely changed my whole perspective on life. I feel like I’ve always had a pretty good outlook on life, but now it just takes a lot more to worry me.

“I don’t get annoyed about little things that I can’t really help. When you hit a bad shot there’s no real point getting frustrated about it because you tried to hit a good shot. You didn’t. Move on.

“I feel like even if I do have a bad day I can still go home and hopefully give her a hug and cuddle my boys. For a while it didn’t look like I would be able to do that.”

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Leishman’s wife Audrey fell ill the week before this year’s Masters in April. She was rushed to hospital when what initially seemed flu-like symptoms developed into something more serious. Thankfully she pulled through but Leishman admits he did have to consider life without her, and golf would not have been part of it.

He said: “It was a huge possibility that I wasn’t going to be playing golf any more.

“Travelling with a one-year-old and a three-year-old by yourself – it wasn’t going to happen. I wouldn’t do that to the boys.

“At the time it was just, ‘right, you’re going to have to give it away and stay home with the boys and be a dad’, and that was the most important thing. I was all right with that.

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“Audrey is all right now and it’s a lot better. But it was pretty rough there for a while, thinking about everything, the boys not growing up with their mum, me not playing golf any more, not having a wife. We’re just really lucky that she’s on the mend.”

Leishman’s 64 moved him to nine under par, one ahead of England’s Eddie Pepperell, who for a brief moment led the Open after registering his eighth birdie on the 16th, only to lash his tee shot on the 17th into the grounds of the Old Course Hotel.

“Obviously I knew I was in a good position but I didn’t care where I was at on the leaderboard,” said the 24-year-old. “You could argue there was a bit of complacency there but I did not want to bail out left because that’s admitting defeat on a tough hole.”