Why a PGA win would be extra special to Leishman
PLAYING the Australian PGA Championship is always special to Marc Leishman.
But contesting the tournament at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast will take on extra significance this year for the Warrnambool product.
The 33-year-old, who resides in Virginia Beach in the US, will be joined Down Under by wife Audrey and boys Oliver, 2, and Harvey, 4.
In March 2015, Leishman had been told Audrey had a 5% chance of living.
He was in Augusta preparing for the US Masters when he got word Audrey had been rushed to hospital after developing a fever and then struggling to breathe.
She was eventually placed in an induced coma as she battled toxic shock syndrome - a rare, life-threatening complication of bacterial infections.
Leishman rushed home to be by her side when he was given the grim news by doctors.
"That was really tough. I didn't eat really for four or five days,” Leishman recalled not long after Audrey had beaten the odds and made a dramatic recovery.
The ordeal was hardest on young Harvey, however.
"He understood when things weren't good,” Leishman said of his eldest son. "I couldn't say it to him, that his mum might not come home again, so I kept telling him she'll be home soon.
"That was one of the hardest things, trying to be positive when inside I knew (the outlook) wasn't. He saw a lot of things a three-year-old should never see.”
Leishman met Audrey in 2006 in Virginia Beach while he was on the Nationwide Tour. They married in 2010, a year after Leishman became the first Aussie to be named the PGA Tour's rookie of the year.
Audrey and the boys have now joined Leishman as he prepares to tee off on the Gold Coast.
"She's doing really well,” he said. "She got in yesterday morning from America with the boys. She's probably at her 'new' 100%.
"It's not where she used to be. It's probably, I'd say, 80% to 90% of where she was before she got sick.
"But if you had have said that she was going to get to 50% of where she was this time 18 months ago when she was in the hospital, you would have taken it.
"It looked like she was not going to be with us much longer and for her to be anywhere near 100% is amazing.”
Tuesday was Kids Day at Royal Pines, with Harvey showing some of his dad's skill with the clubs.
"It's awesome to see so many kids out here,” he said.
"There must be a little putt-putt thing out there ... Harvey ran up to me and he was like, 'Daddy, daddy, I got the ball in the hole.'
"He was really excited about it.”
Leishman is hoping the family success can continue as he attempts to secure his first major victory on home soil.
"It would be huge. You grow up watching the big three - I guess it's the big two now (Australian Open and Australian PGA) - on TV.
"I remember watching the Australian PGA at Victoria. I went down there with my dad and watched it.
"Obviously, it was at Coolum (on the Sunshine Coast) for a long time, and had a lot of good memories there, playing and watching on TV.
"It's going to be very difficult, (with) a lot of good players (competing), but it would mean a lot to me, especially with my family here.
"They've never been at a tournament that I've won, so that would be a really good end to the year, if I could do it. It's a long way away but hoping I can play well and hopefully I can do that.”
Currently ranked 54 in the world, Leishman is determined to crack the top 50 - and automatically qualify for April's US Masters at Augusta. He led that tournament in 2013 before finishing tied for fourth with Tiger Woods.
"I need to have a good week to get back into the top 50 in the world ... so that's a high priority for me,” he said.
"People always talk about wins taking care of everything and that will certainly take care of that, so that's what I'm hoping to do.”
Representing Australia, Leishman and Adam Scott finished tied for ninth at last week's World Cup of Golf in Melbourne.
Despite the disappointing result, he said he was happy with parts of his game.
"My good stuff was good,” he said.
"I think I hit probably a few too many loose shots. But like (Adam Scott) said last week, it's only one good round away and I feel like I'm very close to having a very good week.”
Win or lose, Leishman will enjoy his stay on the Coast with family.
"Actually spending a few extra days up here just on holiday with the kids and wife, and my sister and her family is coming up as well, so we'll be up here until next weekend enjoying everything that the Gold Coast has to offer,” he said.
"We took family holidays up here for probably a 10 or 12-year span, so I've got plenty of good memories and hopefully we'll make some more good ones this week.”