KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — Marc Leishman picked the wrong bar and wound up with the right girl.
He was a young Australian trying to make his way in American golf. That meant spending most of 2007 driving from one city to the next for Monday qualifiers on the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit. He rolled into Williamsburg, Va., one weekend and decided to go for a beer.
“There weren’t many people in the bar,” he said, smiling at the memory. “It wasn’t a great bar.”
But he saw a young woman across the way, walked over to her and asked her where the best places were in town. They hit it off. And when Leishman missed out on qualifying for the tournament, he chose to stay in town because of Audrey Hills, a student at William & Mary.
“I lived out of hotels,” he said. “I’d be in a Motel 6 or a Super 8. You spend as little as possible. If you miss the qualifier, if it was a good town you’d stay there. If it was not a great town, you’d go to the next one and look for the party scene. I stayed there because of that first date.”
They married three years later, and now she is a big part in his mission away from golf.
The Leishmans have started the “Begin Again Foundation,” created to help families who are experiencing medical and life crises. They already have helped 700 families from a foundation that began when he nearly lost the girl he found in a bar.
Leishman was at the 2015 Masters when he left abruptly because his wife was hospitalized with toxic shock syndrome, acute respiratory distress syndrome and sepsis. She was put in a coma and managed to survive, and it was a long road back.
“We were lucky we were in a situation where the medical bills didn’t break us,” Leishman said. “It can break you as a family. And a lot of families don’t have that. When you’re going through something like that, you don’t want to be thinking about money, you’re thinking about your loved one.”
A year after they started the foundation — www.beginagainfoundation.com — Leishman brought more attention to it through his own play.
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