Marc Leishman has taken giant strides towards his goal of turning Australia’s ‘big two’ golfers into a big three with a runner-up finish at the British Open.
A phenomenal final two-round burst of 64-66 on the Old Course at St Andrews pushed the Victorian into a playoff for the Claret Jug, but he ultimately fell short as Zach Johnson prevailed.
While World No.9 Jason Day and No.11 Adam Scott take most of the headlines in Australian golf, Leishman is hoping his play can one day have him in the same conversations.
“Obviously Jason seems to be up there in every major. Scotty is Scotty, he’s always up there, as well.
“I’m obviously a little disappointed with today’s result but hopefully I can get up there with them a bit more often and try and win a few more tournaments,” Leishman said.
“I’ve never really put four really good rounds together like that. That’s probably the best I’ve played.
“I’ve probably putted better, I’ve probably driven it better, I’ve hit my irons better, but put all together, that’s probably the best week that I’ve had.”
Leishman was left to rue a four-foot missed putt on the 16th hole in regulation and then some bad luck as his opening tee shot in the playoff went into a divot leading him to go long over the burn.
A three-putt bogey ensued and put him behind the eight ball in the extra hole shootout but his runner-up finish has pushed him to a career high world No.27 and earned him a cheque for AU$1,133,000.
He also gains a start in all four majors of next year, including a return to the Masters.
Leishman withdrew from Augusta National earlier this year to be by his ailing wife’s Audrey’s side when she was given less than a five per cent chance to live due to toxic shock syndrome.
Thankfully she pulled through and the 31-year-old is able to shake off this defeat knowing she’ll be there with his two young sons when he gets back to their home in the USA.
“I’m happy. Don’t worry about that. I’ve just finished second in The Open,” Leishman said. “Yeah, I could have won it, but look, we spoke about it earlier this week, my perspective is quite good at the moment.
“I can go home tomorrow and hug Audrey and the boys and celebrate a little bit, I guess.
“It would have been nice to have a Claret Jug to drink out of to celebrate, but I’ll find something else.”