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January 5, 2018
Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
JOHN BUSH: Like to welcome Marc Leishman to the interview room here at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. 36 hole co-leader. A 4-under par 69 today. If we can get some comments on your day.
MARC LEISHMAN: It was a good day. Probably not quite as many birdies as I would have liked, but no bogeys, so I guess they cancel each other out.
Played well. Not too many stressful holes and always nice to do that when the conditions are tough.
JOHN BUSH: Sharing the lead with Brian Harman. Just comment about your mindset heading into the final two rounds.
MARC LEISHMAN: Well, I don't really need to change anything, I don't think. Just hope I can keep playing well. Make a few more putts. Certainly going to play to win. I mean that's what we are here for and after last year getting a taste for it, it would be nice to do it again as soon as possible. A lot of golf to play, so a lot of work to do and hopefully I can take care of it.
JOHN BUSH: Questions?
Q. A 69 despite not a lot of putts dropping for you. Do you feel like there's some really low scores out there tomorrow and over the weekend?
MARC LEISHMAN: There could be, yeah, definitely. I saw a few guys shot 7-under today, which is really good score in those conditions. Yeah, a few more putts drop, play the par-5s a little better, could have been a whole lot better. But it seems like you can say that about any round of golf no matter what you shoot so I'm happy with a bogey-free 4-under and yeah, I'm looking forward to the weekend. Hopefully I can keep this going.
Q. You're leading the field in proximity to hole and strokes gained sort of approach. Has that been something that you've been trying to dial in, something to get better at?
MARC LEISHMAN: A new sets of irons in the bag this week, actually. So I put -- well, the first week I used them was the Australian PGA, so liking them, but you got to be playing from decent spots to give yourself a chance to hit it close. So, yeah, game's feeling good. Just hoping I can roll a few putts in tomorrow and give myself a real good chance on Sunday.
Q. That's the obvious statement and everyone says I just need to make a few putts. But here, given conditions and the slope and everything else, how hard is that to actually do?
MARC LEISHMAN: It's tough. You can hit good putts and get a gust and it can blow five feet past or five feet short of the hole. That's how much it can change. So a little bit of luck is involved. But it's just if you hear the wind coming, I guess you got to back off it in case, so you don't get a gust while it's rolling. I know that is not great for pace of play, but you got to be smart about it, I guess. If you're in position you can afford to do that, if you're behind you can't, so keep up and you can afford to do it.
Q. What do you think, if anything, changed last year that sparked that kind of year?
MARC LEISHMAN: I think it all started from the driver. I drove it a lot better. Stats might not have showed that, but I felt like those bunkers that in years past I've I have had to worry about, last year I didn't. I was hitting it over them. When you can do that, hitting shorter clubs into the greens, so you're hitting it closer, you can be more strategic, I guess, give yourself easier putts and I guess my golf brain's better now than it was a few years ago. I'm looking at where I want to hit it into the greens to give myself the best putt because I feel like if I give myself a reasonably straightforward putt, I have a good chance to make it, even if it's 15, 20 feet. So I feel like that went through -- the driver went through the whole game, but even though I've done that you still got to make the putts and the putter was really good last year and it's continuing this year.
Q. Was it more distance or just straighter with the driver?
MARC LEISHMAN: I think I could just -- it was definitely distance. I felt like I could swing harder, I was confident, I would say. I wasn't worried where it was going to go. I felt like I could swing hard and it was just not worrying about where the bad shot's going to go, worrying about where I want to hit it. So I guess that's part driver, part mental.
Obviously everything's in a good spot in my life now and it's a lot easier to play good golf when everything's settled at home.
Q. You've been on obviously a pretty good stretch now. Outside the obvious of winning, be it this week or other weeks, what's the goal or goals for this year, and have they changed any given your form the last few months?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, I think so. This time last year I wasn't in any of the Majors. This year I'm in all of them. So I want to contend in more of those this year, hopefully win one, but you got to contend in them to do that first.
It would be nice to just keep playing the way I'm playing and hopefully seal up the TOUR Championship earlier so you can go into the playoffs not thinking about getting into the TOUR Championship, you're thinking about winning tournaments. I feel like when you're thinking about winning tournaments rather than turning up and trying to make a cut it's easier to play well. Doing that stress free when you're not having to worry about keeping your card or anything like that, it's a lot easier to do.
So I would say apart from winning would be contending in the Majors and trying to seal up that TOUR Championship as early as possible to get that FedExCup ranking.
Q. What was most stress you had last year?
MARC LEISHMAN: The most stress? On the course?
MARC LEISHMAN: Probably that 4-footer on 18 at Bay Hill, on the last hole. Looked like it was about two feet on TV. Yeah, that was probably it, I would say. Didn't have any -- I had a few bad Sundays before that, so I don't know if you call that stress or not, but as far as pressure shots or -- that would have been it. That's the first one that came to mind anyway.
Q. Shot link had it at a foot and a half by the way?
MARC LEISHMAN: Did it? Just tapped it in on one leg.
Q. Used to be a theory that Aussies always had an advantage here because they played at home kind of in December. But you didn't play that much, did you?
MARC LEISHMAN: I played the Australian PGA and that was pretty much the last time I touched my clubs.
Q. How much golf -- what did you play before that?
MARC LEISHMAN: I played Korea and China.
Q. So you have only played one tournament basically in two months leading into Kapalua?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah. I went to Topgolf a couple of weeks ago.
Q. How did you score?
MARC LEISHMAN: I scored all right. I did all right. Yeah, I remember the first time I went there I didn't realize that there was like a leaderboard at the front desk. And I'm -- I scored really high and then all of a sudden all the people turn around and I'm having a couple of beers just having fun. And so this time it was, yeah, it was a little different. But it's fun. Good spot.
Q. Did you use your real name?
MARC LEISHMAN: I did, yeah. I'm a lifetime member on my card, so. I used my real name.
Q. Anyone know who you were?
MARC LEISHMAN: The guy next to me did. We had an end bay, it worked out well. He's like, what did he say? He said you're pretty good with the tools.
Q. On the Gold Coast?
MARC LEISHMAN: It was in Virginia Beach.
Q. What's it like playing with Brian? You get to do that a second day in a row tomorrow.
MARC LEISHMAN: It's good. He's a good guy. We get along really well. It's nice when you can both play well. Whenever you can play with someone who is hitting the ball well and you kind of drag each other along, it works both ways. If you're -- one of you starting to the wrong way, it's pretty easy for -- to get dragged down or to pull each other along. So, yeah, we had a good day. We're both pretty happy out there all day and hard not to be here in Maui. But, yeah, we had a good day and hopefully we can do the same tomorrow and try and just both go low and make a bit -- separate ourselves a bit.
Q. Is it startling how far he hits it?
MARC LEISHMAN: Not really. He hits it great. Everyone out here hits it pretty long and straight. Yeah, he's not the biggest guy, but he's obviously got great timing and a good athlete. So, yeah, not surprising at all, yeah.
MARC LEISHMAN: Do I reckon he looks like punter? No. No, well, I haven't really ever thought about it, to be honest. No, I haven't.
Q. Stress on the course. What about nerves? Is there a difference and do you get nervous anymore going out there and if so, what makes you nervous?
MARC LEISHMAN: No, I don't really get nervous, to be honest. Well, no, I shouldn't say that. At night, like between rounds at the BMW last year, sleeping on the lead, that was actually pretty stressful. I would say that was stressful. Nervous would have been 16th -- or the 18th at Bay Hill.
Q. Prior to the tee shot?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah. Well I was nervous over that tee shot every day. Yeah, I guess that would be the stressful bit. But not really nerves.
Q. Do you embrace it if you do get them?
MARC LEISHMAN: It's a good thing if you're getting nervous. You're putting yourself into a position and that's why you do the work, the practice early in the week to handle that.
Q. So if sleeping on the lead was the thing that made you stressed, what did you learn from that? Obviously you've just done it last night and you're going to do it tonight, hopefully again tomorrow.
MARC LEISHMAN: I think, well this lead is very different to what the BMW was. I messed it up at Boston the week before, can't remember if I was leading going into the last round at Boston or not, but.
Q. You were.
MARC LEISHMAN: I was? Yeah. But a five-shot lead I feel like that's like you got to do something pretty bad to mess that up. So it was like, don't do it again sort of thing. And then what was the other part?
Q. I already forgot.
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah. Me too.
Q. Dustin's been here seven times before and no one else has been here more than three times. I'm curious how much experience on a track like this is valuable, how much of it is overrated, once you've had a crack at it?
MARC LEISHMAN: No, I think it's important, definitely, there's some putts out there that, particularly putts that look like they do something other than what they actually do. Like the land obviously all goes towards the ocean and I hit a couple, a putt in the pro-am from 30 feet and I hit it 30 feet past on number 13. There's little things like that, like you have to do that stuff to learn. If you've been here seven times, you've probably gotten that on a lot of holes. So I feel like I prepared really well early in the week as far as mapping the course goes and mapping the greens and all that. But you can't, there's no substitute for experience, but I think that you just need to play good golf and hope you play better than everybody else.
Q. Do you think you can take Harman in Topgolf?
MARC LEISHMAN: I don't know. I think he likes a beer. We could have some fun.
Q. (No Microphone.)
MARC LEISHMAN: Who would win it? Yeah, I mean, yeah, no idea. No idea.
JOHN BUSH: Best of luck this weekend, Marc. Thank you.
MARC LEISHMAN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports