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Leishman's weekend brilliance earns 6th place Open finish

Leishman records yet another top ten in major championship golf (Photo: Getty Images)
Eleven Australians began their quest for a 10th Open Championship title for their home country on Thursday, perhaps only three considered genuine chances to contend.

Marc Leishman was certainly one of those in that category along with Jason Day and Adam Scott but by Friday evening, he was languishing on the cutline and his chances of anywhere near what could be considered a good week appeared all but gone.

The Victorian, however, would produce the best weekend of all of those who had made it that far, rounds of 66 and 65 moving him into a share of 6th position and completing yet another fine finish in major championship golf’s oldest test, this his third top ten in his last four starts at the Open Championship.

“I didn't have my best stuff on Friday unfortunately," said Leishman after his round. “But I made the cut and will (now) have a top 10. To turn an average week, what could have been a bad week, missing the cut, into a top 10, I'm happy.”

It was a mistake-free round today and the importance of the occasion was not lost on the 33-year-old.   

“It's great. You grow up watching all this stuff on TV. And you hope you're going to get there one day. And to be there on a Sunday afternoon when the stands are full, getting that ovation coming up the 18th hole, it feels really nice.

“Occasionally you have to pinch yourself a little bit. But I've done it a few times now, so it's just fun to do it. And it would be nice to walk up there one day with a four-shot lead and enjoy it more."

“It feels like it's getting closer all the time,” he added when asked what he now needs to do to win a major. "There are other things with majors, there's only four a year, so you have to try and peak at the right times.

“Obviously you want to be playing well all year, but that's probably the next step, try and work on that to try and play really well in the middle of the year when the majors are. But having said that, I'd rather just -- I'm happy doing what I'm doing now, playing well, contending in a lot of events throughout the year and still playing well here. Take that 76 out Friday and it could be a different story.”

Leishman finished four shots clear of the next best of the Australians, Adam Scott, the Queenslander also bogey-free in his round of 67 to finish in a share of 22nd.

"It was a bit of a frustrating weekend," said Scott. "I played okay. I didn't hit my irons very close. I only made one bogey on the weekend but I wasn't really in that close to make a ton of birdies either."

“It was a bit frustrating because when it's calm like this, you feel like you can shoot low,” he added referring perhaps to not taking full advantage of the Saturday conditions.

“If you're a bit off, you can still have a respectable score, but it's not really close to shooting low. And that's kind of how it was over the weekend.

“The game is feeling close. It's a horrible thing to say, "What is that?" But I think my swing got a bit knocked around on Friday. It was feeling really great Thursday, and Friday it got a bit knocked around and I struggled to really get back in my best rhythm for two days. The ball position felt funny because it went so far back in my stance on Friday. And then I just felt a little bit different from where it was.

“These are the kind of adjustments that you have to make on the fly at these big events when there's a little adversity, and I just didn't do quite well enough Friday and didn't do quite well enough on the weekend.”

Jason Day was one who took advantage of Saturday’s benign conditions, his third round of 65 setting up a possible top-10 or better but he was unable to fully recover from an opening double bogey today after driving out of bounds at the first, a round of 71 seeing him eventually in 27th position.

While disappointed with his finish, Day was keen to put a positive spin on the week and the state of his game.

“I'm a lot closer than a lot of people think,” he would say. “Obviously the results aren't reflecting the scores that I'm trying to achieve. But once again, I think just got to keep busting my butt. I've got to stay disciplined. If I stay disciplined, it's going to happen.

“The motivation will come and go, always. But as long as I stay disciplined, good things are going to happen around the corner. So, I've just got to be patient.”

Aaron Baddeley was a different story on the final day, however, his round of 64 the second best round of the day (surpassed only by the stunning round of 63 by Li Hao Tong) to jump 48 places to share 27th position with Day.

Andrew Dodt took advantage of his late inclusion in the field by making the cut and eventually finishing in a share of 44th.

Scott Hend, the last of Australians to make the weekend, lost considerable ground with his final round of 74 to finish 54th.

The Australian challenge might not have lived up to the hopes of a nation before play began on Thursday but Leishman further confirmed that an unflappable demeanour along with his significant golfing skills may one day earn him the status of ‘major champion’.  

MARC LEISHMAN CHAT

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