Marc Leishman has sent the crowd at the 18th green at St Andrews wild with a practice-round eagle hole-out, perhaps setting the scene for a repeat performance of last year’s British Open.
The Victorian stormed home late at Royal Liverpool in 2014 with a final-round 65, the day’s equal best, to finish fifth and immediately book a return trip to this year’s Open at the Old Course.
Playing with fellow Australians Steven Bowditch and Rod Pampling, Leishman closed his Tuesday practice round with a wedge that hopped once, spun back a little right into the cup, much to the delight of the large crowds.
“Nice to hole that wedge with a bit of a crowd around, gets the juices flowing to hit nice shots and have a few people there to see them,” the 31-year-old said.
“This is pretty special being at St Andrews. I played in 2010 here so I’ve got a few rounds under my belt around here and I’m excited and feeling good about the week.”
Unlike many in the field who are concerned about potential and forecasted strong winds, the world No.61 is almost asking for the fans to be turned on.
Having grown up in Warrnambool and windy conditions, he knows it can be an advantage.
“Growing up and learning to play in a heavy wind like it is here definitely doesn’t hurt, Leishman said.
“I’m not saying I hope it blows 40 miles an hour, but it would be nice if there’s a little bit of wind and makes it interesting.
“Last year was a great result for me and I take confidence knowing that I can contend in a British Open.”
Earlier in the round, Bowditch also produced an electric hole-out from a greenside pot bunker, making the trio a popular group.
Challenging himself to see how close to the steep wall he could be and still get out, Bowditch hit a handful of great shots to close range before moving the ball into a near impossible place very near the face.
His explosion shot launched almost vertical into the air, cleared the lip and slam-dunked into the cup.