MARC LEISHMAN ended an emotional 2015 with a stunning six stroke victory to win the rich Nedbank Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.
It was the best and worst of years for Leishman, who leapt into the world top 25 and collected $1.25 million prizemoney, the biggest pay cheque of his career, after he led the final round from start to finish with an outstanding 67 at Gary Player Country Club.
It was his first European Tour victory and best win since claiming the Travelers Championship on the US PGA Tour in 2012.
On the golf course this year, the 32 year old originally from Warrnambool in Victoria, has had a great year, finishing runner-up at the Open Championship at St Andrews, his best finish in a major, and making his debut at the Presidents Cup where he beat world No. 1 Jordan Spieth in singles.
But in April he was prepared to chuck it all in when he nearly lost his wife Audrey after she fell seriously ill with toxic shock syndrome, a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection which resulted in her being put into an induced coma.
With two young children to care for, Leishman feared the worst.
Thankfully, Audrey pulled through but Marc admitted he feared the worst and was prepared to give up golf to care for their two young children.
Eight months later and although Audrey is not over all the health issues, things are looking much brighter.
“I’m pretty happy to have this year over, to be honest,” said Leishman. “Audrey got very sick and I lost an uncle who I was very close to. This tops off what was otherwise not a great year. Three weeks ago we moved into a new house, so this will help pay for that.”
The final day in Sun City loomed as a shootout between Leishman and Henrik Stenson, with the Aussie cantering away in the end with rounds of 68-68-66-67 to finish on 19-under, with Stenson (72) 13-under and England’s Chris Wood (68) trailing third at 9-under.
“I knew it was going to be a really tough day, I knew I had to play well. Henrik’s an awesome player and I knew he’d make me earn it, which he did,” said Leishman.
“I’m really pleased that I could play as well as I did and have a little bit of a buffer there at the end. Golf’s a lot easier when you don’t have to make up lost ground, especially on this golf course where there’s trouble everywhere. I was really happy to not have too many bogeys. I definitely found out where the trouble was in the practice round.”
It was a big day for Aussies on the European Tour with 24 year old Nathan Holman winning the co-sanctioned Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast.Nedbank Golf Challenge Results