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2017 Awards: Bouquet #1

As 2017 draws to a close it’s time to reflect on some of the highlights and low-lights of another fascinating year in the game. 

We’ll be nominating Bouquets, Brickbats and Landmark Moments over the Christmas period including this bouquet for the Australian who elevated himself to the game's global elite.

Our No. 1 Bouquet recipient for 2017 is Marc Leishman.

Marc Leishman began 2017 outside the top 50 in the world (55th) and as the year draws to a close he has not only moved to his highest ever ranking in the game (13th) he has moved past Adam Scott into the position as Australia’s second highest ranked golfer and with the promise of more to come.

The 34-year-old is, to a large extent, the quiet achiever of Australian golf, his low key but very likeable personality ensuring little controversy and therefore not as much profile as others but his exploits on the golf course this year made it impossible for his rapid rise in the game to be overlooked.

Not only was it the wins at the prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational and the BMW Championship (a FedEx Cup Playoffs event) but it was his great consistency throughout the year that proved so impressive.

In 26 starts worldwide Leishman missed the cut in only three events and recorded six top-10s and 12 top-20s. He made the cut in all four majors with a best of 6th at the Open Championship.

His earnings of just under US$7 million further reflected his consistency and he finished the year by finishing 4th at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast.

Leishman’s great success this year has resulted in a greater awareness of him as a golfer and an individual and his performances on the golf course and the manner in which he has conducted himself along the way in 2017 resulted in him being awarded the Greg Norman Medal in the week of the Australian PGA.

He was so delighted to have been named the recipient of the increasingly prestigious award that it was the prime motivation for his travel to the Gold Coast for the Australian PGA.

“It's an honor to be named the Greg Norman medalist for this year. I wasn't originally coming back but that was probably a little bit of a factor in the decision,” he said the morning after receiving the award.

Leishman has faced battles off the golf course in recent times, more especially in the near-fatal illness of his wife Audrey two years ago, and that the couple celebrated the arrival of a third child and their first daughter this year added further to a year that must have been one of the most rewarding of his life.

Marc Leishman speaking on the eve of this year's Australian PGA Championship.

“You know, with everything that happened with Audrey with her health, I feel like that was ‑‑ as hard as that was to go through, I feel like I came out of that a stronger person," Leishman said. 

"A lot of good has come from that and I think that's made us ‑‑ we started a foundation and helped a lot of families. That makes you feel good to be able to help people. It makes you happy, and when you're happy it's easy to play good golf."

When asked if the year had been the most satisfying of his life he responded; “Yeah, that's one good way to put it. It was successful. I don't know, it was just satisfying, I guess. Probably the best word would be satisfying. 

“I feel like I've been playing well for a few years now and just haven't ‑‑ getting close more frequently but not winning. So, to get a couple of wins on the board this year was just really satisfying. I've known I've been a good player for a long time but just haven't been able to get on a really good run and put stretches of good tournaments together and this year I did that, which was really pleasing. 

“My body's feeling better. I've had some back issues over the last few years and they're finally managing them, which is nice. So I think my swing speed has gone up three miles an hour from last year, so I guess that's confidence. Just I guess the mindset as well. Just swing it and do the best you can and then if it goes straight, great; if not, go find it and hit it again. 

“It's knowing that - not steering it, not worrying about where it's going to go, I feel like that's how I play my best golf. Just do the best you can and go from there.”

Leishman is not one to rest on his laurels and he knows there are further steps to take and he thinks he has the formula to do just that.

“I think my whole career's been baby steps. I started out on the Von Nida Tour here and worked my way to Korea and then onto the Web.com Tour and the PGA Tour and won the Travelers and worked up to a European Tour event and Bay Hill and a playoff event, so I feel like the next step is to try and win a major.

"So I'll do everything I can to try and do that, try and keep the balance really good in life and golf and I feel that gives me my best chance.”

Hats off to Marc Leishman, the deserved recipient of iSeekGolf's # 1 Bouquet for 2017.

SIGNATURE HOLES: 16TH AT ROYAL PINES (QLD)

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