Marc fi­nally has all the mak­ings

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JIM TUCKER

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.