The fields of golf-starved stars are so strong as the PGA Tour returns that early tournaments will feel like major championships, says Marc Leishman.
World No.15 Leishman is among 15 of the world's top 20 players, including No.1 Rory McIlroy and No.3 Brooks Koepka, preparing for Thursday's Tour restart at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Forth Worth, Texas.
He's one of 13 Australians teeing up this week either there, or at the secondary Korn Ferry Tour event in Florida, as Tour golf comes out of its 90-day shutdown due to coronavirus.
An excited Leishman travelled from his home in Virginia to Texas on Monday, determined to quickly recapture the form that earned him his fifth US Tour title at the Farmers Insurance Open in California in January.
He admitted it would be extremely tough to win with so many top players eager to make an early mark in the condensed season ahead.
"The fields for the first few events are so strong that they will feel a bit like the majors and that will help with motivation," Leishman told AAP.
"Winning again and making sure I secure a really good starting position for the (season-ending) Tour Championship (in August) will keep me pretty fired up."
No crowds or handshakes, regular nasal swabs and golfers wearing microphones on course are part of the new look for the Tour following the hiatus.
The safety protocols require players, caddies, tournament officials and Tour employees to undergo coronavirus tests before travelling and they will be subject to at least two tests on site at each event.
"There have already been some very awkward fist bumps when someone has gone in for a handshake with me but realised we can't and withdrawn and that's going to happen for a few months," Leishman said.
"Getting a four-inch swab shoved up your nostril is different, but that's expected and it's a measure to keep us all safe."
Host broadcaster CBS announced Tuesday that select players will be mic'd up while they compete and a "confession cam" will allow for some on-course interviews.
"It's going to be weird without crowds; it'll be funny if I wave to a non-existent crowd when I make a birdie putt," Leishman joked.
Joining Leishman at Colonial Country Club this week are countrymen Cameron Smith, Jason Day, Cameron Davis, Matt Jones and sponsor's invitee John Senden.
Stalwart Robert Allenby will feature on the Korn Ferry Tour event alongside fellow Australians Ryan Ruffels, Brett Coletta, Harrison Endycott, Curtis Luck, Brett Drewitt and Jamie Arnold at Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press