LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Marc Leishman allowed himself to dream of being among the best, even if there were times that that looked a long way off.
It’s hard to think about trophies while working the graveyard shift.
That was one of the jobs Leishman took early in his career in Australia, when he needed money to pay for entry fees. He operated a laser that cut thick sheets of metal into various shapes. One wrong move could mean the loss of a limb, tough work for an aspiring golfer, especially at $10 an hour working from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.
“It was hard work — and hard staying awake,” he said. “That wasn’t too good for my golf, so that lasted a week.”
His best golf looked a long way off when Leishman first came to Chicago as a PGA Tour rookie. He made eagle on the final hole of the second FedEx Cup playoff event to narrowly advance to the BMW Championship. He played in the final group with Tiger Woods, and it was first time Leishman was nervous on the golf course.
Woods won by eight. Leishman was in awe, sure, but he still managed a runner-up finish to get to the Tour Championship.
Eight years later, he is heading back to East Lake under far different circumstances.
Leishman went wire-to-wire at Conway Farms, building a five-shot lead going into the final round and never allowing anyone to get closer than two shots all day. The one threat came from Justin Rose, and Leishman responded with back-to-back birdies.
Then, he added a birdie on the 18th hole for a 4-under 67 that broke the 72-hole scoring record at the BMW Championship, which previously belonged to Woods, the guy that left Leishman in awe.
Leishman finished at 23-under 261.
The 33-year-old Australian, who had only one victory in his eight previous years on the PGA Tour, now has two in one year. He also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
That alone doesn’t put him among the elite in golf, and Leishman would be the first to say that. He still has trouble getting recognized, joking earlier in the week that he can occasionally hear fans in the crowd saying, “Who’s that bloke there?”
Sunday brought plenty of satisfaction.
Leishman topped $5.7 million in earnings for the year, more than double his best…