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Aust heartbreak fuels Leishman's Maui tilt

Two crushing runner-up finishes in Australia have Marc Leishman inspired to go one better at the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

Aust heartbreak fuels Leishman's Maui tilt

Two crushing runner-up finishes in Australia have Marc Leishman inspired to go one better at the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

MARC LEISHMAN of Australia plays a shot during the first round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Plantation Course in Hawaii.
MARC LEISHMAN of Australia plays a shot during the first round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Plantation Course in Hawaii. Picture:Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

After two near misses in Australia, Marc Leishman is fired up for this week's elite Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

The 35-year-old Victorian teamed up with countryman Cameron Smith at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne in November, when the pair came within striking distance of eventual winners Belgium, only to finish second.


A week later at the Australian PGA Championship, Leishman relinquished a two-shot lead over Smith with six holes remaining to hand the young Queenslander back-to-back PGA titles.

Although proud of contending in front of Australian fans, Leishman said it left a bee in his bonnet for the first US PGA Tour event of 2019.

"Yeah ... I had chances and didn't take them and I'd like to get one back here and get a win," Leishman told AAP on Wednesday at the Tournament of Champions in Maui.

"The Aussie summer was mixed emotions, I guess; I'm happy with the way I played but disappointed I didn't win at least one of them."

Leishman is also determined to atone for last year's Tournament of Champions, when he held a share of the 36-hole lead only to fall apart with a Saturday score of three-over-par 76.

"I would like to have won it, but Dustin played so good," Leishman said of Dustin Johnson, who romped to an eventual eight-shot victory.

"I want to play well here; it's a nice way to start the year and get some momentum and a good opportunity to try and win a PGA Tour event with only 34 players in the field."

Leishman is hoping to add a sixth title for Australian golfers since the winners-only, no-cut Tournament of Champions moved to Maui's Plantation course in 1999.

Australian veteran Stuart Appleby won three consecutive editions starting from 2004 - the most wins by any player at the picturesque Kapalua venue.

Appleby's countryman Geoff Ogilvy then claimed back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.

Other Australian success at Kapalua includes former world No.1 Jason Day sharing the course record with an 11-under-par 62 in 2015.

"I'ts pretty hilly and that suits Australian players and we are also pretty well equipped for those Maui winds ," Leishman explains.

World No.20 Leishman is confident of sustaining the form which saw him dominate the US PGA Tour's CIMB Classic in Malaysia in October, where he bagged a five-shot win.

"I'd say I'm playing as good as I was in Malaysia, I showed that in Australia and now I just need to piece it together this week."

Leishman's countryman Day is also in the field at the 34-player event.

AAP


AAP




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