Marc aims to wash up his old din­ner part­ner

The Racing Paper - - Golf | Rugby - by Mitchell Platts

RACV Royal Pines, Gold Coast, Queens­land

MARC Leish­man seeks to go from mi­nor to ma­jor by claim­ing this week’s Aus­tralian PGA Cham­pi­onship from good friend and de­fend­ing cham­pion Cameron Smith at the RACV Royal Pines Re­sort on the Gold Coast.

“To win in your own coun­try is a lot of fun,” said Leish­man.

“I’ve done it in sec­ondtier events and to win a sig­nif­i­cant ti­tle on home soil is a huge ca­reer goal of mine.”

The 35-year-old Vic­to­rian cel­e­brated Smith’s play-off suc­cess 12 months ago over an­other Aus­tralian, Jor­dan Zu­nic, and Smith re­paid the com­pli­ment when Leish­man cap­tured last month’s CIMB Clas­sic on the PGA Tour by five shots in Kuala Lumpur.

“We had din­ner to­gether al­most ev­ery night in Malaysia so it was great that Cam waited at the 18th green on the last day,” added Leish­man, who this week­end is part­ner­ing Smith in the World Cup of Golf.

“We cel­e­brated in typ­i­cal Aussie style with beer and piz­zas.”

Leish­man, a three-time PGA Tour win­ner, has claimed four Aussie ti­tles in ad­di­tion to the 2015 Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge and, af­ter fin­ish­ing 21st in 2016 and fourth last year, he is con­vinced the course at Royal Pines suits his game.

It cer­tainly fits the eye of Amer­i­can Harold Varner III – cham­pion in 2016, run­ner-up in 2015 and sixth last year – and not sur­pris­ingly he re­turns and looks the most likely dan­ger to deny Leish­man or Smith mak­ing it three ‘home’ wins in four years since Mel­bourne’s Nathan Hol­man tri­umphed in 2015.

An­drew ‘Beef ’ John­son bids to em­u­late fel­low English­man David How­ell, who won in 1998, but an­other Aus­tralian, 2006 US Open cham­pion Ge­off Ogilvy, could chal­lenge at the age of 41 for a ti­tle he won ten years ago.

Ca­reer goal: Marc Leish­man

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