Wife's health gave API winner Leishman perspective

By Ryan LavnerMarch 20, 2017, 12:16 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Three feet from victory Sunday, Marc Leishman thought about his son’s nagging question.

For the past year, his 5-year-old son, Harvey, has asked, “Daddy, why don’t you ever win a trophy?”

It wasn’t for a lack of effort, of course. Leishman has desperately tried to snap a five-year winless drought. He nearly won two majors during that span, at the 2013 Masters and 2015 Open. He has been in final-round contention in all but one tournament this year. No trophy, though, and so the questions continued.

It didn’t help that Jason Day won eight times over the past two seasons, and each time was bum-rushed on the 18th green by his two young kids, Dash and Lucy.

“Hey, why can’t I run out on the green?” Harvey asked. 

And so the kid wasn’t about to miss out Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, even though the end result was still in doubt. He and brother Oliver, 3, raced onto the green to congratulate their dad, who had pitched to 3 feet and made the slippery par putt to post 11-under 277.

When Kevin Kisner failed to make a closing birdie to tie, Leishman scooped up his kids in a bear hug to celebrate the long-awaited title.

“You won, Daddy!” Harvey squealed. “Let’s go get the trophy!”

This Arnold Palmer Invitational meant so much more than just the shiny silver trophy.

Two years ago, Leishman was told that his wife, Audrey, had a 5 percent chance of surviving after a series of infections put her in a medically induced coma.


Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


While Marc was at Augusta National preparing to play in the following week’s Masters, Audrey came down with a 102-degree fever and flu-like symptoms, and that worsened into strep throat and pneumonia, and that became acute respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome. By the time Marc returned home to Virginia Beach, Va., his wife was hooked up to a ventilator, her lungs were filled with fluid, and the prognosis was dire. Leishman spent the next 96 hours by her bedside, barely able to eat, his mind racing, as the thought of being a single father of two young boys became a distinct possibility. 

“I was ready to give it away,” he said.

Two days before the Masters – and after a doctor’s critical decision to turn her on her stomach – Audrey’s condition improved and she regained consciousness. Marc returned to the Tour later that month, and he lost a playoff at The Open a few months later. 

“They went through their nightmare when I was in my coma,” Audrey said. “When I woke up, it was a big relief for them, and that’s when my nightmare started. That’s when I realized what had happened to me and how sick I really was.”

Audrey’s health has remained a concern over the past two years. She routinely developed some kind of respiratory infection. There was even a minor complication at this event last year, when a family trip to the theme parks ended up with Audrey in the hospital to receive IV fluids and steroids.

Her health finally began to turn around last May, when she underwent a tonsillectomy. In September, she was cleared by her infectious disease doctor.

“It was one of the best days of my life,” she said. “He said that I was released and told me to have a good life. I’ve never left a doctor’s office being that happy.”

A month later, Audrey, 33, was pregnant with the couple's third child, a girl, now due in July.

The traumatic experience gave Leishman a much-needed dose of perspective on a tour full of charmed existences.

“It makes golf less important,” he said. “It’s not life and death. We have been in that situation and it’s not fun.” 

Leishman’s hard-earned victory was a fitting end to an emotional week that was always going to be about more than birdies and bogeys.

That tone was set early, with the unveiling of the 13-foot Palmer statue, and then continued throughout the week with the well-attended opening ceremony and the colorful umbrellas that adorned hats and bags and shirts, and the inspirational signage throughout the course.

The beloved tournament host always camped out on the 16th tee, and he would have loved what he saw from Leishman. Lining up his 50-foot eagle putt, Leishman realized that he’d struck virtually the same putt during a practice round Tuesday and missed 3 feet left. He backed off, readjusted his line, and holed the putt to leapfrog the leaders. Two solid pars to close gave Leishman his second Tour victory, and first since the 2012 Travelers.

"Very special," he said. 

The only thing missing was Palmer’s customary greeting to the left of the 18th green.

Fortunately for Leishman, Harvey and the rest of the family helped fill that sizable void.  

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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