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September 22, 2009

Marc Leishman


COLIN MURRAY: We welcome Marc Leishman to the interview room here at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, only rookie in the field this week. Congratulations on making it here, No. 16 in the FedExCup standings. Just talk a little bit about your rookie year as a whole, especially your play last week, a T2, best finish of the year at BMW. Just talk about your year as a whole and thoughts on being here for the first time.
MARC LEISHMAN: It's great to be here, first of all. At the start of the year, I wouldn't have thought I would have been here in the first year out. I guess it's been a pretty good year, all up, especially the last two weeks have turned a good year into a really good year.
Tied second was great last week, and to play with Tiger and play well was great. It's been a bit of an up-and-down year really, all up. Just got off to a decent start, then had a bit of a dry patch for three or four months, and then started playing well again in sort of probably May.
Since then it's been good and hopefully can keep playing like that.

Q. You actually played your way into the field at BMW with your finish at Deutsche Bank, and I believe made an eagle on your 72nd hole there to help your cause and then did the same thing at BMW to play your way in here. Just talk about these PGA TOUR Playoffs and how you've played the first three events.
MARC LEISHMAN: They've been great. I mean, it's different to the regular season, I suppose you'd call it, just with, I suppose, the extra pressure, knowing if you play well you can gain so much, and more so if you don't play well, you can drop out and not even get in the following week. So it's been -- I've enjoyed it, playing under that pressure and knowing that I've had to play well has been -- it's a little bit more like a match play feeling without being match play. You know if you don't play well, especially in the situations I've been in, I've had my back to the wall in pretty much -- especially the last two events. I knew that if I didn't play well there would be no chance of playing the next week, so I knew where I had to finish and just really concentrated on who was in front of me and where I had to get to, rather than who was behind me and how far I'd fall if I had a bad round. That didn't matter.
Yeah, it's been great. Just to get to the Deutsche Bank and the BMW was -- I thought it was an achievement, for me, in my first year. And then to get here is just -- it's probably surpassed my goals a little bit. You set high goals to achieve them, but this one was probably -- we set it just because it was one up. No, it's been good. Really looking forward to this week and getting amongst it.

Q. How difficult has it -- you've never played here before. How do you adjust your preparation or whatever when you've got a golf course that is this wet and you haven't been out on it probably?
MARC LEISHMAN: Well, I guess it might help me in a way. You know, not having been out there -- well, I actually did play it once in I think it was 2004, after the Dogwood Amateur, came out with Tom Clements and the guy I stayed with for that week, and we came out here, and it was actually stupidly wet as well. I remember just hitting 4-irons and 3-irons into par-4s. It was crazy long. So that's just how I remember it. I can remember probably about six holes.
So I think it's not going to do me any harm, although I can't really remember it. I guess all the guys are so experienced, it's not going to affect them too much, I wouldn't think. But I'm not expecting that if I hit a, say, 4 -- last year I hit 9-iron in, whereas this year I'm hitting 6- or 5-iron in. I've really got to try to take positives out of it, not having played it. I've been doing it all year, playing golf courses blind. I've got to try as many positives out of it and feel like I'm not on the back foot, especially in a field like this.

Q. You looked really calm playing with Tiger last week. Were you? And how important was it to make some putts early so you could get whatever nervousness you had out?
MARC LEISHMAN: The par putts I made early were huge in the context of the day. If I'd have bogeyed three of the first six holes or whatever, that's not really the way you sort of plan your first day out with Tiger Woods. I was nervous on the first tee, there's no doubt about that. I've probably never been that nervous in my whole life. But having said that, to play under that pressure, I really enjoyed it.
You know, I was nervous over the first tee shot, and then the second shot into 18, because I knew how much it meant. I don't know, I just enjoy playing with the nerves and under pressure, and I'll try and take something from it. Not look at it as a negative, look at it as a positive, if I'm nervous then it must be for a reason. So I've done something right to get into that position. Just try and take positives out of it, really.

Q. The other thing about playing in wet conditions, do you pick the ball with your irons or do you take divots, large divots?
MARC LEISHMAN: Generally with the short irons take pretty decent divots, but you know, it's not -- if it's really firm conditions, I can sweep it a bit more. I'm not set completely in my ways. I can adjust. We'll have to see. Obviously it's going to be really soft out there, so we'll have to see how soft it is. I'll have to remember not to wear the light colors. Could be a bit dangerous, come off looking like a -- not looking like a golfer, anyway.

Q. Were there one or two things in your game that have clicked during these Playoffs? I mean, you've obviously been able to turn it on here. Did something happen or did you just feel that this was coming?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, it has been coming for a while. It's always hard to know when it's going to happen. You know, you try and plan for it to happen in the bigger events. You try and plan the schedule to not be burned out for certain events or to be fresh for certain events.
You know, me and my coach, Dennis, we're looking at trying to be playing well for the Playoffs. It's easier said than done a lot of the time, to play well at the right time. But when you're this close, really close -- I've been driving the ball a lot straighter, hitting it from the fairways is always a lot easier than pecking it out of the rough, and I've been rolling in a few putts, as well. They're probably the two main things.
But you know, everything has improved. I'm hitting it closer to the hole, so instead of having 30-foot birdie putts, I'm having 15- or 20-foot birdie putts that are a lot more makeable, leaving yourself in the right spot. My head is in a better place not having to worry about whether I've got a job next year. That all comes into it.
The first week of the Playoffs, or weeks leading up to that, I still wasn't guaranteed that I was going to be out here next year. If I would have played bad for the rest of the year, I would have been back to Q-school or Nationwide Tour or whatever. Definitely your mind being clear has a lot to do with it, and if you can just be thinking about what you have to do and what you want to do, it's so much easier than having to worry about if I do this, this might happen. Everything has been improving.

Q. I wanted to ask you one other question. Have you looked at all the things that need to happen for you to win $11.3 million this week?
MARC LEISHMAN: (Smiling) No, I haven't. To win, I'd have to win. I know that. And have a lot of help. I don't think it's going to happen, to be honest. For so much to happen for me to get over the line, it's just -- it would be one in a million at best, I think. And I'm not looking to win the FedExCup. It would be unbelievable to win it, but from the position I'm in, it's just not likely at all.
Obviously I'm going to be trying to win the golf tournament, trying to do as good as I can. But a Top 10 would be a great result for me this week, realistically. I'm playing well, so there's no reason why I can't have four good rounds and maybe have a shot at winning. But having played with Tiger the last week and got that first round with him out of the way, I think I'm better off for it.
Depending on how things go, it's going to be a good week no matter what. I'm here. As much as you don't really want to say it, I'm here, and a Top 10 would be awesome for me this week.

Q. You talked about playing with Tiger. What kind of reaction did you get from friends and family? Did you hear anything from people back in Australia?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, a lot of emails, a lot of text messages. It was great. Everyone was so excited, along with myself. I was on a high until, I don't know -- probably still on a high, really. Yeah, it was just great, just to know that all the support at home -- it's just a dream come true, really, to play with him and to play well. It would have been the real dream if I would have beaten him, but that was always going to be a bit unrealistic. But yeah, it was great.

Q. Have you ever met him?
MARC LEISHMAN: No. I met him in the locker room before we teed off, just sort of said hi and introduced myself, and then met him on the first tee again.

Q. Did he say anything when you finished?
MARC LEISHMAN: He did. Actually walking down the 18th fairway, he said, "Congratulations on getting into the TOUR Championship. You deserve it." And then again when we shook hands, I sort of congratulated him, obviously, and he seemed genuinely really happy for me, which is great.

Q. The 18th hole here is a pretty tough par-3. What do you think of that as a finishing hole and what's your strategy coming into there?
MARC LEISHMAN: I remember the last time I played here, I hit 3-iron in there, hit it to the middle of the green. So I think if I can have four more of them, that would be nice. Just take it in the middle of the green and take my 20- or 30-footer every day I think would be great. But I think to change it up and have a long par-3 as a final hole is great. There's so many par-4 finishing holes. I'm not a person who says the last hole should be a par-4 or should be a birdieable par-5. I think every golf course is different, and with this having the long par-3 is great, I think, just to change it up a little bit.
COLIN MURRAY: Thanks, Marc.

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