21 Apr 2022 | Professional golf |

Aussies on Tour: How pressure forged golf's best pairing

by PGA of Australia

Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman.

By Tony Webeck

They both thrive under the intensity of competition yet it is the lack of pressure they place on each other that makes the Cameron Smith-Marc Leishman pairing so productive.

For the second time since 2018 Smith returns to TPC Louisiana as the defending champion of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, this time trying to replicate the playoff victory he shared with great mate Marc Leishman 12 months ago.

They are one of two all-Aussie pairings in the PGA TOUR teams event this week with DP World Tour regular Jason Scrivener teaming up with Jason Day while Cameron Percy (Brandon Hagy), Brett Drewitt (Dawie van der Walt) and Lucas Herbert (Arjun Atwal) are also out to unseat their fellow countrymen.

With matching mullets on the first tee – albeit a temporary wig in Leishman’s case – the Smith-Leishman combination set a relaxed tone as they walked out to ‘The Mullet Song’ in Round 1 last year.

Yet as Smith’s hair continued to party at the back it was all business up front, Leishman crediting their friendship with forming the ideal environment for the fourball/foursomes format.

“Being such good friends helps,” said Leishman.

“We don’t put pressure on each other to hit good shots. Obviously, we want to hit good shots, but I think the pressure thing is big.

“If we hit a bad shot, obviously we’re still frustrated, but we get on with it and just concentrate on the next shot.

“I think it’s easier to do that when you’re mates.”

Smith showed again in his recent victory at THE PLAYERS Championship that he is largely impervious to the effects of pressure.

He hit a crucial tee shot on the first playoff hole last year after South African Louis Oosthuizen found the water with his drive but said it was the way Leishman stepped up over the final 36 holes that helped to propel them to a memorable win.

“I enjoy the pressure as well, but I think ‘Leish’ really turned it on on the weekend,” said Smith, coming off a missed cut at last week’s RBC Heritage at Harbor Town.

“Probably wasn’t playing his best golf maybe the Pro-Am day and the first day out here but as soon as the pressure got on and we got to the top of that leaderboard, Leish flicked it on like a switch.

“It was pretty impressive to see.”

As Leishman and Smith set out on their title defence in New Orleans Minjee Lee leads the Australian contingent at the LPGA Tour’s DIO Implant LA Open hoping to repeat her success from three years ago.

Currently ranked No.5 in the world, Lee’s best finish in 2022 is a share of second at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Thailand and she was 12th in her most recent start at the Chevron Championship.

Two new events both sponsored by ISPS HANDA on the DP World Tour and Japan Golf Tour have attracted a strong band of Aussies to each and there are six Australians looking to make an impression at the Epson Tour’s Copper Rock Championship in Utah.

Round 1 tee times AEST

PGA TOUR Zurich Classic of New Orleans TPC Louisiana, Avondale, Louisiana 10.26pm             Danny Lee/Sangmoon Bae, Seung-Yul Noh/Michael Kim 10.39pm*           Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman, Viktor Hovland/Collin Morikawa 11.31pm*           Cameron Percy/Brandon Hagy, Doc Redman/Sam Ryder 11.57pm             Brett Drewitt/Dawie van der Walt, Michael Gligic/Ryan Armour 3.18am*             Jason Day/Jason Scrivener, Joel Dahmen/Stephan Jaeger 3.44am*             Lucas Herbert/Arjun Atwal, Jim Herman/Vaughn Taylor

Defending champions: Marc Leishman/Cameron Smith Past Aussie winners: Marc Leishman/Cameron Smith (2021), Cameron Smith/Jonas Blixt (2017) Top Aussie prediction: Marc Leishman/Cameron Smith TV schedule: Live 5.30am-8.30am Friday, Saturday; Live 3am-8am Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503

DP World Tour ISPS HANDA Championship in Spain Lakes Course, Infinitum, Tarragona, Spain 3.45pm*             Zach Murray, Kento Nakai, Zander Lombard 8.45pm*             Jake McLeod, Emilio Cuartero Blanco, Craig Howie 9.20pm  Scott Hend, Jeff Winther, Sami Valimaki 9.50pm  Ryan Fox, Adri Arnaus, Ewen Ferguson 10.20pm             Maverick Antcliff, Alvaro Quiros, Carlos Pigem 9.45pm*             Wade Ormsby, Daniel Van Tonder, Matthieu Pavon

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Wade Ormsby TV schedule: Live 10pm-3am Thursday, Friday; Live 10.30pm-3am Saturday; Live 10pm-2.30am Sunday on Fox Sports 503

LPGA Tour DIO Implant LA Open Wilshire Country Club, Los Angeles, California 12.48am             Katherine Kirk, Sanna Nuutinen, Emily Kristine Pedersen 5.26am  Su Oh, Gerina Mendoza, Bianca Pagdanganan 5.37am*             Stephanie Kyriacou, Cheyenne Knight, Emma Talley 6.21am  Minjee Lee, Danielle Kang, Patty Tavatanakit 6.21am*             Hannah Green, Ayaka Furue, Cristie Kerr

Defending champion: Brooke Henderson Past Aussie winners: Minjee Lee (2019) Top Aussie prediction: Minjee Lee TV schedule: Live 8.30am-11.30am Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday on Fox Sports 503

Japan Golf Tour ISPS HANDA Championship PGM Ishioka Golf Club, Omitama 8.10am David Bransdon, Tomohiro Kondo, Liang Wenchong 8.50am*             Matthew Griffin, Kunihiro Uei, Daihei Sato 9.10am*             Anthony Quayle, Kantaro Naito, Hiroki Abe 12.50pm             Brad Kennedy, Hiroyo Ikemura, Kodai Ichihara 1pm*     Andrew Evans, Ryuko Tokimatsu, Yuta Ikeda 1.30pm*             Brendan Jones, Jay Choi, Daijiro Izumida 1.40pm  Adam Bland, Yoshitaka Takeya, Gunn Charoenkul 1.40pm*             Michael Hendry, Tatsunori Nukaga, Lee Sang-hee

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Brad Kennedy

PGA TOUR Latinoamerica\ JHSF Aberto do Brasil Fazenda Boa Vista, Porto Feliz, Brazil 1am      Tim Stewart, Michael Perras, Jose Narro 1am*    Charlie Hillier, Toni Hakula, Graysen Huff

Defending champion: Shad Tuten (2019) Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Tim Stewart

PGA TOUR Canada Q-School USA West 3 The Home Course, Dupont, Washington Aussies in the field: Cameron John, Brody Harbinson-Graham, Zachary Maxwell, Matias Sanchez

Epson Tour Copper Rock Championship Copper Rock Golf Course, Hurricane, Utah 11.30pm             Robyn Choi, Soo Jin Lee, Min A Yoon 12.47am             Amelia Garvey, Roberta Liti, Selena Costabile 1.31am  Sarah Jane Smith, Yan Liu, Sofia Garcia 2.26am  Grace Kim, Alisa Rodriguez, Kendra Dalton 4.27am  Gabriela Ruffels, Nannette Hill, Jaclyn Lee 5am        Hira Naveed, Sophie Hausmann, Fernanda Lira 5.55am  Julienne Soo, Teresa Toscano, Karen Chung

Defending champion: Bailey Tardy Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Hira Naveed

Champions Tour ClubCorp Classic Las Colinas Country Club, Irving, Texas 10.15pm*           Rod Pampling, Tom Lehman 10.22pm             John Senden, John Daly 11.27pm*           Steven Alker, Darren Clarke 2.50am*             Mark Hensby, Ken Duke, Brett Quigley 2.57am  Robert Allenby, Scott Verplank 4.02am*             Stephen Leaney, Tom Pernice Jr, David Branshaw

Defending champion: Inaugural event Past Aussie winners: Nil Top Aussie prediction: Mark Hensby TV schedule: Live 3am-5am Saturday on Fox Sports 503; Live 5am-9am on Fox Sports 505; Live 5am Monday on Fox Sports More+

* Starting from 10th tee

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