Marc Leishman admits he's finding it tough playing tournaments without galleries as Australia's golfers step up preparations for the long-awaited, abbreviated 2020 majors season.
The US PGA Championship at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park in two weeks’ time is the first of three majors still going ahead and Leishman will be among six Aussies in the field.
Leishman, Adam Scott and Cameron Smith were all well primed for the majors season, having captured PGA Tour titles earlier this year, before everything shut down for 90 days due to COVID-19.
Since the resumption in June, Leishman has missed the cut in two of four events and his best is tied 40th, Smith has missed three of four cuts and Scott is yet to start.
That leaves Jason Day as the form Australian, with his ties for seventh and fourth in the past two weeks.
Leishman, a five-time PGA Tour winner, says competitive rust is partly to blame for his lacklustre restart, but fan-less tournaments have not helped.
"I won't lie, it's been tough with no crowds," Leishman told AAP.
"Obviously, safety is the most important thing. But we're so used to playing in front of crowds and you do pick up a lot of energy from the fans, particularly when your score isn't going great.
"That's been the hardest thing to deal with."
“I won't lie, it's been tough with no crowds. Obviously, safety is the most important thing. But we're so used to playing in front of crowds …” – Marc Leishman
He will have to get used to it as fans won't be allowed at any PGA Tour events for the rest of the season, which concludes at the Tour Championship in early September.
California health authorities have banned fans from the US PGA Championship while the US Open (September 17-20 in New York) and the Masters (November 12-15 at Augusta National) have yet to announce a decision on fan attendance.
The US PGA Championship will have an Australian contingent featuring Leishman, Scott, Smith, Day, Matt Jones and Lucas Herbert.
All six are also set to compete in the World Golf Championships event in Memphis, Tennessee next week to put the final touches on their major championship preparation.
World No.9 Scott is currently practising in South Carolina ahead of what will be his first tournament since the shutdown, while European Tour winner Herbert is also in the US.
"I can't wait for the PGA; Harding Park is a course I really like and I played well there at the WGC-Match Play in 2015," Leishman said.
"It's probably my best opportunity to win one because generally PGA Championship courses don't set up well for me."
Day, the 2015 US PGA Championship winner, is taking great heart from his burst of recent form.
"I'm really pleased to see my hard work starting to pay off and that has me a lot more excited for the PGA Championship, where hopefully I can pick up my second major win," Day said.
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press