A devastating four putt at the eighth green during Saturday’s diabolical third round of the US Open momentarily derailed the normally laid-back Victorian and he backed up with a missed cut at last week’s Travelers Championship, where he is a former champion.
But playing in the company of 14-time major winner Tiger Woods clearly agreed with the three-time PGA Tour winner who finished the opening 36 holes at 6-under and just three shots off the lead with two rounds remaining.
Overcoming a poor day with the driver Thursday where he found just three fairways, Leishman showed vast improvement in that department on his way to a second consecutive 67 to trail leaders Ryan Armour, Beau Hossler and Brian Gay.
Leishman is one of just two Australians to qualify for the weekend after 2006 US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy backed up a promising Thursday 67 with a disappointing Friday 75 to miss by one.
Aaron Baddeley also amassed one stroke too many while Rod Pampling and Matt Jones were well outside the number.
Leishman’s playing partner and tournament host Woods was once again the focus of most after backing up from a mediocre opening 70 with a brilliant 5-under 65.
The former World Number One amassed seven birdies against two dropped shots in his round as he jumped from a share of 48thto inside the top 15.
Woods sounded confident of his chances when speaking to the press after the round, pointing to a better performance on the greens as the main improvement in his Friday score.
“All day yesterday I hit good putts,” he said. “I started the ball on line with the right speed but they just didn’t go in. So what?
“I continued doing that today - which I haven’t done in about four tournaments – and eventually they’re going to start falling and today they fell.”
He said he liked his position ahead of the weekend on a TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm which is expected to get more difficult over the final two rounds.
“I think as the year has progressed I think I’m not that far away from putting it together where I can win,” he said.
“The scores aren’t going to be a that low and the golf course is going to get more difficult.
“I’m not that far back. I’m in a similar position to where I was at Valspar (where he finished second in March.)
“It’s going to be a tough weekend. It’s going to be hot, it will be a long weekend mentally and physically and I’m in good position right now.”
SWING LIKE SERGIO GARCIA:
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