Now that US Immigration officials have released him to contest the British Open, Marc Leishman is hoping to avoid being “screwed” by the draw for golf’s most unpredictable major.
Australia’s only winner on the 2012 PGA Tour had to call in some favours in order to take his place in the Open field at Royal Lytham as he awaits the outcome of a green card application.
American laws restrict applicants from travelling outside the States during the processing period, but a phone call from PGA heavyweights helped Leishman receive an “advanced parole” notice from the US government.
“So I’m here and they’re going to let me back into the country, so that’s good,” Leishman said after making the dash across the Atlantic on Monday.
“It was touch and go. It’s been an interesting few weeks, but I had the right people on it for me and now I’m here and hopefully I can make the most of it.”
Leishman is playing his second Open after finishing tied 60th on debut at St Andrews in 2010.
He confesses to knowing “nothing” about the Lancashire layout and, after arriving with just three days to spare, the 28-year-old is relying on a maximum of two practice rounds to get acquainted with the testing links course – “if the weather cooperates”.
Then, like the other 155 hopefuls teeing off on Thursday, Leishman is praying the golfing gods are good to him.
As two-time runner-up Thomas Bjorn put it as the weather turned ugly on Monday, the draw for the Open can make “an unbelievable difference”.
Like no other major championship, the British Open is exposed to the elements – fierce winds, biting cold and heavy rain, often pelting down sideways.
As Rory McIlroy discovered at St Andrews in 2010, when he shot a brilliant first-day 63 in glorious morning conditions only to be wiped out with a second-round 80 in buffeting afternoon winds, the luck of the draw can prove the difference between winning and losing.
McIlroy fought back admirably to finish third, but the damage had already been done.
Leishman, who broke through for his maiden US Tour victory at the Travelers’ Championship last month, tees off at 3.27pm in his opening round and 10.18am on Friday.
Such a draw means he will play about 27 of his first 36 holes in the afternoon when the wind is usually – but not always – at its strongest.
He has his fingers crossed.
“You can get lucky or unlucky pretty easily over here and you’ve just got to hope things are on your side and you don’t get screwed,” Leishman said.
“The last British Open at St Andrews, I got really lucky. So hopefully I just don’t get the other side of it this year.”
But if he does, Leishman believes having grown up in Victoria will equip him to meet the challenge and make the weekend cut.
“Growing up in the wind, I love playing in tough conditions,” he said.
“I think that’s something you need to love to do well in a British Open because conditions always change a lot.”
Leishman has been grouped with American Brandt Snedeker and Swede Alexander Noren.
Australia’s only major winner in the field, 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, has the honour of playing alongside world No.1 Luke Donald and American ace Phil Mickelson for the opening two rounds as he looks to make the cut for the first time in six years.