Long-time coach and PGA Professional Denis McDade has once again proved how valuable his insights can be with a quick fix netting star pupil Marc Leishman a hefty pay cheque at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club in Texas.
Leishman was the only one of the three Australians in the field to progress past the group stage, recording a perfect 3-0 with wins over Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Russell Knox and Bryson DeChambeau before falling to South African Louis Oosthuizen in the round of 16, Kevin Kisner defeating Matt Kuchar in the final 3&2 to claim the biggest win of his career.
By qualifying for the knockout stage of the tournament Leishman collected a cool $US167,000, crediting work with McDade for his strong play during the week and a major confidence boost less than a fortnight from the first round of The Masters at Augusta National.
“At THE PLAYERS I didn't have a clue where it was going, just hitting everything thin,” Leishman explained.
“Having a coach that's been with me for so long, we've been together for 18 years, he saw it straight away and fixed it up within half an hour of looking at me.
“My stance was too narrow, which changed my ball position and messed everything up. Not quite as sturdy a base as I needed for my body.
“It was simple, but very, very productive.
“The difference between two weeks ago at THE PLAYERS and this week, I mean, I feel like a different person over the ball and the ball is coming out like I feel it should.”
Leishman never trailed as he defeated Aphibarnrat 2 UP in their first match and was forced to fight all the way to the 18th hole before getting the better of Knox by the same score.
In the final match of the group stage DeChambeau needed to win to force a playoff for a place in the final 16 but Leishman never gave him a look in, winning the first three holes and going on to post a commanding 5&4 win to set up a showdown with Oosthuizen.
A birdie at the par-4 3rd hole gave the Victorian an early lead but Oosthuizen hit back to win four of the next six holes to be 2 UP at the turn.
He made it 3 UP with a birdie at the 10th hole and then held his nerve to keep Leishman at arm’s length, ultimately recording a 2 UP win to move on to the quarter-finals.
It was a disappointing week for both Jason Day and Cameron Smith who lost all three of their matches with Day battling through a flaring of his back injury.
WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play
Austin Country Club, Austin, Texas
Marc Leishman def. Kiradech Aphibarnrat 2 UP
Jason Day lost to Jim Furyk 2 down
Cameron Smith lost to Charles Howell III 2&1
Marc Leishman def. Russell Knox 2 UP
Jason Day lost to Henrik Stenson 4&3
Cameron Smith lost to Abraham Ancer 3&2
Marc Leishman def. Bryson DeChambeau 5&4
Jason Day lost to Phil Mickelson 2 down
Cameron Smith lost to Paul Casey 4&3
Round of 16
Marc Leishman lost to Louis Oosthuizen 2 down
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