Palmer Looks Down On Leishman Holing Dramatic 50-Foot Eagle To End 5-Year Winless Drought.

Orlando, FL ..

Two years ago Marc Leishman was forced to withdraw from the Masters in learning his terribly ill wife had just a 5 per cent chance of survival.

Now he and Audrey are returning to Augusta National after the Australian dramatically holed a 50-foot eagle putt to help secure him victory and a Masters invitation in the special tribute Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in suburban Olrando.

It was if ‘The King’ was looking down on the 33-year old Leishman who came one shot behind three players – Kevin Kisner, Charley Hoffman and Rory McIlroy – in sinking the putt from well behind the flag at the par five, 16th to one in front with two holes to play.

Leishman then marvellously got up-and-down from 35-foot in a back bunker at the par three 17th ahead of playing a splendid third shot, a 35-foot wedge, to just three feet at the last for a virtual tap-in par in a round of 69 for an 11-under par tally.

Marc Leishman ends a 5-year PGA Tour victory drought to capture the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational (Photo - PGA Tour)

Marc Leishman ends a 5-year PGA Tour victory drought to capture the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational (Photo – PGA Tour)

Kisner and Hoffman signed for 73s whereas McIlroy, who was striding up the last when he heard the roar emanating from the 16th, played an aggressive birdie putt on the last only to send the ball by the hole and then miss his par putt in a round of 69 to settle for a share of fourth with England’s Tyrrell Hatton (71) in fourth place on 10-under par.

In capturing just his second PGA Tour victory the very proud Warnnambool-born golfer earned an invitation to next month’s Masters and no doubt has secured his place later this year in the International Presidents Cup team.

“I’ve had quite a few chances to win this year”, he said.

“Going into Sundays I’ve been two, three, four back so it’s been disappointing to do that, but you really learn stuff when you don’t, when the outcome’s not what you wanted it. And I felt like I learned a lot from those earlier in the year. I’ve been playing well, it’s just a matter of putting four rounds together.

What a great victory initiative ... Marc Leishman fitted with one of Arnold Palmer's trademark button-up cardigans.  (Photo - PGA Tour)

What a great victory initiative … Marc Leishman fitted with one of Arnold Palmer’s trademark button-up cardigans. (Photo – PGA Tour)

“The more you get yourself into that situation, the better you get and luckily those experiences from earlier this year paid off and I was able to make the putts when I needed to and walk away with this trophy.

“It’s very nice so be heading back to the Masters as was certainly a goal of mine to, I knew that the cut off was after the Match Play and I only had two events left, so I need to get it done or sit at home and watch the Masters, which is not fun if you’ve already been there and played there, because you know how cool it is to be there.

Proudly waiting for him at the back of the 18th green was his wife, Audrey and sons Oliver and Harvey.

Two years ago we remember Leishman leaving Au­gus­ta National in the wee hours after getting an emergency call from his wife.  His entire world was crashing down when she was barely clinging to life in a Virginia Beach, Va., hospital with toxic shock syndrome. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be back to plying his trade on the PGA Tour.

Golf, at least as Leishman knew it as a global professional golfer, was over if his wife didn’t beat the 5 percent odds of surviving.

Fortunately, Audrey Leishman beat the odds and there was no-one more happier waiting to greet her husband.

Marc Leishman and his family.

Marc Leishman and his family.

How life has changed for the Leishman’s and again it surely must have been Palmer who was indeed looking down on him, his wife and young family.

“It was terrible, I mean, I was ready to give it away if Audrey had have passed away, I was going to be a dad and that was it,” Leishman recalled.

“There was no other sort of — it didn’t cross my mind to keep playing golf. So, that first six months, just every time I was on the golf course I was just so happy to be on a golf course and be healthy and all that.

“Obviously, your perspective doesn’t stay like that for a long period of time, I feel like I’ve still got a very good perspective, but yeah, it’s, it can be life, it’s life changing. Something like that

“So, going through something like that. It’s been — I think the hardest part for me and the boys was that right around the time where it happened, that month I would say. That was the hardest part for us.

“But I feel like for Audrey it was the recovery, the year or year and a half after. So we sort of had, when she was in the hospital was when I was really struggling. And when she got out is when she had her problems.

Long time between victory drinks Marc Leishman wins 2012 Travellers Championship.

Long time between victory drinks Marc Leishman wins 2012 Travellers Championship.

“It’s been a wild ride and it certainly makes, it makes golf and — it’s I want to do it well, but it makes it less important. It’s not life and death. We have been in that situation and it’s not fun. If you’re missing a 4- footer it’s not fun, but you can make a 40-footer on the next.

“It does make certainly appreciate the good times a lot more and appreciate just everything, your kids and your family and just having people around. It’s just great to be able to share this with someone. If it was just me, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun, if they weren’t with me.”

And Leishman was able to at last put to rest the stream of questions he’s been getting from his youngest son, Harvey.

“He keeps reminding me that it’s been awhile since I won. He says, “Daddy, why don’t you ever win the trophy?” said Leishman smiling.

“So, that’s nice to get that now, to go and get that trophy. So, I’m just so excited and so happy that, especially in a week honouring such a champion guy like Mr. Palmer.”

It is Leishman’s first PGA Tour win since capturing a maiden title in the 2012 Traveller’s Championship while he finished tied for the lead in the 2015 Open Championship only to lose out in a play-off at St. Andrews.

Leishman’s win also made it back-to-back Aussie success at the Arnold Palmer after Jason Day won the event last year and he also joins Queenslander Rod Pampling (2006) as the only Australians to lift the gleaming trophy that was first handed out in 1966.

And after arriving at Bay Hill not being exempt into the Masters, he has jumped 30 spots to be the new World No. 32 and the assurane now of qualifying for a fifth Masters now in two categories

Comments are closed.