The 2019 PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner continues to learn his trade on the European Tour. And the 26-year-old’s game is in good shape as he searches for his second pro win.
Here, McLeod talks watching a mate nearly win the Masters, playing 72 holes in a day and his shrinking video game handicap.
Your stats suggest you have gained a little swing speed and distance this year.
During COVID when I was back in Australia, I bought some Speed Sticks and had a crack at it, I probably didn’t go as hard as I should have (laughing) and I definitely gained a little bit of speed. But I am pretty sure I’ve lost it all now (laughs). I think distance definitely helps, but I would rather hit it straighter.
Accuracy helped with a lot of success here before you went to Europe. Is it nice to get to a big Tour and know that you don’t have to change your game?
I have played two seasons up there now and my game definitely feels like I can play there for sure, I don’t have to change too much. I just have to improve my short game a little bit, but other than that my ball striking and putting is good enough. I think last year was good, it was kind of a learning curve and a free run at it, because everyone keeps their cards for next year. Could try some different things.
Watching a guy you grew up playing a lot of junior golf with (Cam Smith), nearly win the Masters, what does that do for your motivation?
That was unreal! That was awesome to see. For me, I am just trying to do what I can right now and focus on the European Tour. I just want to try and keep my card and make it to the Race to Dubai final and try and move up from there and hopefully with that, it improves my ranking and I can get to America in the near future and play some events over there with him.
"I am just trying to do what I can right now and focus on the European Tour. I just want to try and keep my card and make it to the Race to Dubai final and try and move up from there." – Jake McLeod
You are one of the many successful Aussie golf pros to come out of the Hills International College. Why has it developed so many good players?
We had a lot of good players, and if you have good players around you that makes you work harder and play better. We had Anthony Quayle, Maverick Antcliff, Cory Crawford, and I know myself I am very competitive and don’t like to lose. You are always competing against each other, so it is a good environment to grow up in and just to breed that competitiveness. We didn’t do too much study to be honest (laughs). A lot of golf though.
You played the Cancer Council’s Longest Day at the end of 2020, what was that like?
It was awesome. ‘Quayley’ (Anthony Quayle) asked me to come and have a hit. I wasn’t sure if I would get through, I’m not the fittest bloke in the world. I got a little half set in a pencil bag and carried it for 72 holes. It was super tough, I got through 36 and it was pretty easy, when I got into the late half of the third round, my legs started aching and lower back started hurting a bit. It got to the last round and I was just wanting to finish. It was for a great cause and raised a lot of money.
During the stop start of tournaments last year, did you improve your skills in any areas away from golf?
My gaming got very good while I was overseas. I brought my Xbox with me, so we were playing a lot of Call of Duty … me and a couple of the other boys.
What do you think your Call of Duty handicap would be?
I rate myself as pretty good at the moment, I’ve got all the gear. I would probably be playing off about 1, 2 or 3. Quite low, but still an amateur (laughs).
The most important thing is just to beat Min Woo Lee though?
That’s right. Min Woo is very good. Poor old ‘Quayley’ isn’t so good, so it’s nicer playing with him (laughing).