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Leishman Set to Defend Title at Travelers
Marc Leishman closed with a stellar 8-under 62 in the final round of last year's Travelers Championship and then waited until the rest of the field finished play.
Lo and behold, when the dust settled the Australian - who fired eight birdies - concluded the second-best comeback in the tournament's history and gave the 29-year-old his first title as a member of the PGA Tour.
In finishing a stroke ahead of Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson, Leishman became the second Aussie - after Greg Norman in 1995 - to win the tournament.
Leishman is back at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., to go for two in a row in the $6.1 million event, which starts Thursday. On Wednesday, Leishman met with reporters and talked about last year's victory and what it meant to his career. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: Like to welcome our defending champion, Marc Leishman back to the Travelers Championship. Last year you joined Greg Norman as one of only two Aussies to win here. It was an exciting finish. You finished a couple of hours before the end of the tournament. If you could just kind of take us back to your thoughts on last year and coming back to defend this year?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, it was an exciting finish for me. Obviously, shot 62 in the last round and had to wait for a couple of hours there. It was a little bit of a nervous wait, but it all turned out well for me in the end. Great to get on the trophy with Greg Norman, lot of other big names, Arnold Palmer is on there, among others. But they're the ones that sort of stood out to me. Yeah, it was an exciting week for me, and it's great to be back, and hopefully I can do it all again.
Q. Marc, you finished a couple of hours ahead of the final group. Was that easier or more difficult? There weren't as many cameras around the 18th green.
MARC LEISHMAN: It was probably different to what I expected my first win to be. I finished, and I wasn't sure whether I had won or was going to be in a playoff or going to finish fifth or whatever. So it probably wasn't the way I imagined to win. But still I had a number in my head, and I was close to that number. But, like I said, it was an interesting couple of hours. There probably wasn't as much attention on me as there probably would have been if I had a 10 footer to win in the last group. But I'll take them however I can get them.
Q. Do you feel like the win here elevated you to another level? I saw your name was up there for quite a long time at the Masters. Do you feel like you would have been there had you not won this tournament?
MARC LEISHMAN: That definitely gave me confidence to know I was good enough to win and to play good under the pump. My swing held up under pressure here, and at the Masters I was in contention all week, and it held up there. So I think the confidence that this tournament gave me last year, having the round I did on Sunday, and not the immense pressure of maybe what some wins might have because I finished early, but still there was pressure. So I think that definitely helped me for the Masters, and that did probably, it gave me a bit more confidence, I think.
Q. You've already been back here for media day and now you're doing this on Tuesday. Can you talk about how different it is to be a defending champion coming into this tournament? Does it affect you mentally at all and what do you expect in terms of galleries and commitments on your time the rest of the week?
MARC LEISHMAN: It is a little bit different. You've got people that look at you differently knowing that you did win last year. Last week with Webb, you look at him, and, hey, he won it last year, and it's the same with every week. You know who won it last year. It's a bit of a different feeling. Earlier in the week knowing that you did win it last year and did all the hard work and at the end of the week it paid off. It would be good to obviously do that again. But, yeah I would say it's a bit different. You're probably expected to do a bit better than what I would normally be expected to do from others, just because of what I did last year. I played well on the course before. I really enjoyed the course. I'm expecting to do well. I'm really looking forward to getting out there, it will be a different feeling.
Q. If you could talk about the course, is there anything specific, not just the fact that you won here or would like about this course or anything that stands out to you?
MARC LEISHMAN: I think it's a fun golf course. If you're playing well, you can make a lot of birdies. If you're not playing well, you can make bogeys. It's funny. The way I sort of think of a good golf course and a bad golf course is if you tee off the first all of a sudden you're in the 15th, and it feels like it's only been an hour or two, that's a good golf course because you're enjoying the holes. When you feel like you've been out there for six hours and you're on the fourth, that might be an indication that the golf course isn't quite as fun. But I think this is a fun golf course because there are birdies out there. If you're willing to take it on, you can have a low score. But at the same time, if you do take it on, you're bringing in that big number into it as well. I think that's a good indication of a good golf course. I think this is one of them.
Q. So you probably had an idea in your mind what it would be like as a PGA Tour winner. In what ways has it surprised you? Has it been not what you expected, and in what ways has it been fully what you expected?
MARC LEISHMAN: I think obviously the pairings change. You go, rather than staying with the category I was in, you go to playing with guys that are basically all winners. So you go to playing with guys that have won big tournaments, and generally they're guys that I have grown up watching on TV that have been out here a long time. So that is a good thing. There is a little bit more attention. People know my name now. Like no one ever knew who I was. I'd get here and the crowd was like who is this bloke here? And now it's like, "Go, Leish" or "Go Marc." So I think that's cool. But I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary that I wouldn't have expected. It's good. Hopefully I can be a multiple winner soon.
Q. You won your first one last year here. What do you attribute all the first time winners to over the last year or so?
MARC LEISHMAN: Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of, obviously, a lot of great players coming out of college. Guys are more prepared. I think people are starting to work with mental coaches and that earlier, so they have the belief that they're good enough to win earlier than what they might have done if they hadn't been working with those guys. Obviously, Phil and Tiger, they came straight out, and just win straightaway. But guys like Harris English, he won a couple weeks ago. He's a great player and you'd expect him to win it. But it's only his second year on Tour, and that is impressive. John Huh had a great year last year. There are a number of guys. I think it's just the development that we get. I know in Australia, there is not a whole lot that you're not prepared for when you get on Tour. I think maybe years ago there was the preparation early on in your career like through college or whatever it might have been was maybe not quite as advanced as it is now. Here there have been a lot of first time winners. I'm not sure maybe why, but maybe the finish. It's a tough finish. But it's an unknown, I guess.
Q. I don't know if everybody's been through media dining yet, but Marc and Audrey, his wife who is here with us, they provided the zucchini casserole in media dining. This is in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the PGA Tour Wives Association. So I just want to have Marc make a few comments. The wives have developed and produced a cookbook that is for sale all throughout this season that is, supports all the PGA Tour wives charities throughout the country. There is an example of it next to the dining table where you can see the actual book and I have some more information on it. I'll have Marc make a few comments on what this means for the Tour Wives, and what they do to support children's charity in all of the cities that the Tour visits?
MARC LEISHMAN: The book is called "Beyond the Fairways and Greens," and it's been put together by all of the PGA Tour Wives Association. They've got virtually all of the guys that are on Tour now that are married. They've got their favorite dishes, really, and got the recipes and put it in this book. All of the money that gets raised from the book goes to charity. I'm not exactly sure of the charities that they support. I know there are hundreds of them, but they support the charities. It's just a good insight to what maybe your favorite golfers favorite dish is. Maybe he goes home and if he gets a choice, what he eats. So yeah, it's a great thing. There is some good food in there. Audrey has cooked up a few for me, and I think it's for a great cause.
Q. Is this Audrey's recipe before you guys got married or is this something that you liked growing up?
MARC LEISHMAN: This is Audrey's recipe. She cooks this along with another chicken dish, so I have them together. It's actually pretty dangerous. I don't want to stop eating it, so I don't get her to cook it too often or I'd be like the side of a house if she did. But it's a really good meal, and if you haven't had it yet, it's really good, worth a try. I really enjoy it, and go and have a go.
MODERATOR: Audrey will be available afterwards if anybody has any follow up with her on the book or anything like that.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.