April 7, 2018 / 3:44 AM / 3 months ago

Happy hooker Leishman conjures up masterpiece to stay in hunt

AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) - Marc Leishman was rewarded for a bold decision to go for the green with his second shot at the par-five 15th, where he executed perhaps the shot of the tournament during the second round at the U.S. Masters on Friday.

Marc Leishman of Australia celebrates his birdie on the 13th hole during second round play of the 2018 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., April 6, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The Australian was faced with a shot of 210 yards to the hole, a pond waiting to gobble up anything that landed short of the green, as well as a slight headwind at Augusta National.

Further complicating matters was that Leishman had a towering pine tree blocking his direct route to the hole.

Undaunted, the easy-going Leishman pulled out a five-iron, hooded the club to reduce the loft, and hooked the ball around the tree and to within six feet of the hole.

Leishman was rewarded with one of only two eagles at the hole all day, and it catapulted him to a five-under 67 and second place on seven-under for the tournament, two strokes behind halfway leader Patrick Reed.

“My drive on 15 was not ideal, but I practice that shot every week, curving it big both right-to-left and left-to-right, and it was one of those opportunities where it fit the shot and I thought it was a good time to give it a go,” Leishman told reporters.

“I did it, and it came off.

“I just try and enjoy myself, play some fun shots like I did on 15. I don’t really think about it too much. I just see a shot and swing.

“When I’m playing my best golf, all I’m seeing is the shot, and then I swing to hit that shot. I don’t really think about anything during my swing.”

The modest Leishman joked on Tuesday that he has only 76 fewer PGA Tour victories than Tiger Woods.

Nonetheless, Leishman is a perennially solid campaigner with three PGA Tour wins to his name as well as a playoff loss at the 2015 British Open at St Andrews.

The 34-year-old has a languid-looking but deceptively powerful swing that he says matches his personality.

When it comes to Augusta, Leishman is probably best known for his role in a famous photo taken on the 72nd green in 2013 when he was compatriot Adam Scott’s playing partner.

As Scott roared in celebration after holing a putt to get into a playoff he would subsequently win to become the first Australian to triumph at the Masters, Leishman was captured pumping his fist in the background.

“At least it’s something good I’m remembered by,” he said.

“Hopefully I can change that this week and be remembered for this tournament. But if it’s not, I’m happy to be remembered for something positive.”

Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by John O'Brien

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