Marc Leishman knows how to chase down a tournament leader.
He possesses the Winx-like quality of being able to sit back in the pack and charge towards the lead with the winning post in sight.
Who could forget his run at The Open Championship in 2015 at St Andrews? Having just made the cut, he went on a tear over the third and final rounds posting scores of 64-66 to reach a play-off only to be stymied by hitting his ball into a divot down the 1st extra hole.
Then there was his incredible final round 62 to storm to his first PGA Tour title at the 2012 Travelers Championship. There, he managed to run down reigning Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, and Charley Hoffman to steal the trophy by a single stroke.
“I’ll need to play really well, but I feel like my game’s there, it’s ready to do that, it’s just a matter of making the putts." – Marc Leishman.
So, he knows how to put the foot on the accelerator when needed. Can he do it in the final round of the Australian Open and finally get his name on the Stonehaven Cup?
“Yeah, I’m still in it,” Leishman smiled as he wandered off to sign hats and balls for an eager throng of kids.
With rounds of 69-67-70, Leishman is at seven under and will start the final day five shots behind 54-hole leader, Matt Jones, who won the national championship here in 2015 and was runner-up two years later.
“I think it’s gettable,” the Victorian said. “Obviously, I’d like to be closer than that, but I think six is gettable. I think the course will firm up a lot tomorrow. The conditions are hard.
“The course is getting firmer and tougher, especially if the wind stays like this, it’s really hard to pick. You’re hitting good shots and airmailing greens and leaving them short. I think it’s the same for everyone. It’s tough.
“I’ll need to play really well, but I feel like my game’s there, it’s ready to do that, it’s just a matter of making the putts. So, hopefully I can get the speed of the greens, make some putts and put some pressure on them at least.”
Recent history may also be on Leishman’s side.
Australian Open final rounds at The Australian are always a test of nerve and volatile movement on the leaderboard. A run of three or four birdies will easily propel a player from the pack into the spotlight and perhaps, ultimately, the presentation ceremony, just as it did for Peter Lonard in 2004. With just seven birdies to speak of in his first 64 holes of that Open, the defending champion cut loose with five birdies in the final eight holes to overrun the leaders and snatch the trophy.
In 2015, Adam Scott almost pulled off the impossible when he came from nine shots behind 54-hole leader and eventual champion Matt Jones to finish a shot short of a play-off after a stunning closing 65. Rod Pampling was a further two shots back after a final round course record 61.