Marc finally has all the makings
IAN Baker- Finch has tipped Marc Leishman to finish as top Aussie at this week’s British Open, which has stirred rich memories of his own success on the Royal Birkdale fairways 26 years ago.
The special vibe when walking by the replica of the Claret Jug that is displayed at his home in Florida is never greater than this one week of the year.
Baker- Finch ( pictured after his 1991 win), now 56, still has game because he reeled off five birdies yesterday in his fine two- under- par 68 at the revered Chicago Golf Club with a friend from the commentating world, which has been his second life in golf for 20 years.
“That Open win really has made my life because I’m always ‘ Ian Baker- Finch ... you’re a British Open champion’,” the Queenslander said in humble tones.
“I can say now I definitely stuffed up before ( in majors) but that gave me the understanding I could do it and not just be a good Australian player happy to compete in a British Open.”
Just as fading at the 1984 and 1990 British Opens toughened Baker- Finch for his big moment, Leishman’s playoff miss at the 2015 Open at St Andrews and the 2013 Masters finale have added steel to the burly Victorian.
Baker- Finch believes that mentality will aid Leishman along with his proven abilitya to handle the windy conditions.
“It showed when St Andrews was blowingb in 2015, his shot shape suits Royal Birkdale and he had a strong start to the US Open last month,” he said.
Eleven Aussies will tee up from Thursday when Jason Day will play with 2015 champion Zach Johnson ( 10.04pm AEST), Adam Scott will go off with Rickie Fowler ( 10.26pm), Leishman will play beside leftie Phil Mickelson ( 12.10am Fri) and first- time Open starter Cam Smith will be among the early starters at 9.20pm.
Winds of up to 33km/ h are tipped plus the obligatory rain, sunny spells and cloud cover over the four days.
In other words, we can expect a normal British Open.
Aussies have a strong history at Royal Birkdale, where Peter Thomson excelled with two ( 1954 and 1965) of his five Open successes and Greg Norman ( 2008) led in the final round during his last serious shot at a major at 53.
FULL SWING: Marc Leishman looks in great form going into the British Open, believes former Open champion Ian Baker- Finch.