By Sean Martin, Golfweek
AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s a tradition at Augusta National. Not the pimento cheese, Par-3 Contest or skipping of balls across the lake at the par-3 16th. No, this annual occurrence only impacts the handful of Australians in the field each year. They’re asked when an Australian will wear the green jacket for the first time.
Australia’s strong golf heritage never has produced a Masters champion. Greg Norman was a Masters stalwart, but his time here was defined only by heartbreak. Jason Day and Adam Scott were runners-up in 2011, finishing strong before being overtaken by Charl Schwartzel’s four consecutive birdies to close.
An Australian is atop the leaderboard at Augusta National, but it is not Scott or Day, the country’s two leading men. It is Marc Leishman, who earned his spot here with his first PGA Tour victory, at last year’s Travelers Championship.
Leishman finished his first round at this year's Masters in 66 shots. “It was a good day obviously,” Leishman said. “Got off to a bit of a shaky start, a few nerves early. But got those out of the way with a birdie at 3 and then we're away. Hit some good shots, made some reasonably easy pars, and I think that's what gave me the confidence to go on from there.”
Leishman made bogey at the first hole, but birdied Nos. 3, 8, 10 and then made four in a row on Nos. 13-16.
It’s been three years ago since Leishman made his Masters debut. He earned his invitation to the 2010 Masters by making the previous year’s Tour Championship, an accomplishment attributed mainly to one result, a runner-up at the BMW Championship. The 2009 rookie of the year shot 72-79 in his Masters debut.