Aussie golfer Leishman contends as wife waits to give birth


Potomac (United States) (AFP)

Just two years ago, Australian golfer Marc Leishman's wife Audrey was given a five percent chance to survive. Now she's nearly ready to give birth to their third child.

And Leishman hopes to sneak in one more title before becoming a father again, firing a bogey-free four-under par 66 Thursday to stand among the leaders after round one of the US PGA National.

"Hopefully she will hold out until next week and we can finish this tournament and go home and be a dad for a couple weeks," Leishman said.

If she didn't hold out, it wouldn't be the first time Leishman dropped everything at a golf event and rushed to his wife's bedside.

On March 31, 2015, Leishman was at Augusta National preparing for the following week's Masters when Audrey went to a hospital suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome, a rare life-threatening bacterial infection.

Leishman returned to be with her. She was put into an induced coma for four days and toxic shock began to affect her organs, fluid building in her lungs.

Audrey Leishman was given only a five percent chance of recovery, but she beat the odds. By mid-April, she had recovered enough to return home, although she battled respiratory issues for the next 18 months before doctors pronounced her well.

Within weeks, she was pregnant. Their first daughter is due to arrive next week.

"It's huge," Leishman said. "Obviously when she was going through all that stuff we were just hoping she would survive and she survived, and we were hoping she would get somewhere back to full strength and she's done that.

"Now got a baby in her belly and it's ready to come next week. Yeah, pretty exciting time for the Leishmans."

Leishman, the US PGA Rookie of the Year in 2009, won his first title on the US tour after 96 starts at the 2012 Travelers Championship.

He shared the 18-hole lead at the 2013 Masters with Sergio Garcia, the Spaniard who won his first major title at Augusta National last April, before settling for a share of fourth.

Leishman's best major finish came in the 2015 British Open at St. Andrews when he and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen lost a playoff to American Zach Johnson.

Last March, Leishman won his first US PGA title since 2012 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, winning at Bay Hill the first time the event had been played since its namesake legend's death last September.

On TPC Potomac's hard, firm greens that reminded him of playing in Melbourne, Leishman shined.

Starting off the 10th tee, he birdied three holes in a row, the last of them on a 60-foot bump and run shot from off the front of the green, then added a birdie at the par-5 second hole.

"On a tough course like this, it's nice when you can get the tournament started like that," Leishman said. "Happy with how I played. Bogey free was pleasing and hopefully I can keep it up the rest of the week."

Leishman ranks sixth on the US tour in scoring average at 69.784 strokes over 64 rounds.