Coronavirus: Leishman braced for 'very different' November Masters

Omnisport

Marc Leishman is braced for a "very different" Masters, while the PGA Tour star is still dreaming of winning gold for Australia at the Olympic Games.

The Masters – originally scheduled for April – was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and organisers have identified November 9-15 as the intended dates to stage the rescheduled major at Augusta.

World number 15 Leishman has twice finished in the top 10 of the iconic Masters – his best result tied for fourth in 2013 in Georgia.

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Asked about a November Masters, five-time PGA Tour champion Leishman told Stats Perform: "The greens are usually firmer in November. I have a friend who is a member there and he has always tried to get me to go there in November.

"I guess the course is as good if not better in November than it is in April. Very different, there will be different grasses, different winds, flowers won't be blooming.

"It will be extremely different but hopefully we can play that with crowds and get that atmosphere because that's one of the best things about the tournament."

The rescheduled Masters will form part of a condensed PGA Tour schedule – consisting of 36 events instead of the original 49 – due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has wreaked havoc on sport across the world.

The PGA Tour is planning for tournaments to resume behind closed doors in the second week of June after a number of events had to either be postponed or called off since mid-March in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The US PGA Championship, originally scheduled for May, has been pushed back to August, prior to the Tour's season-ending tournaments that comprise the FedEx Cup play-offs.

In September, three months after it had initially been due to begin, the U.S. Open will take place in New York, before the Ryder Cup gets underway two days later, while The Open has been cancelled.

Leishman, who claimed January's Farmers Insurance Open, earned top-three finishes at the Safeway Open (third) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (second) to be seventh in the FedEx Cup standings following a fast start prior to golf's suspension.

"Having this big spell, it will probably be two, three months before it's over, so I guess it will be easy to come back and try play everything just because we haven't been doing anything," Leishman said when asked how he will approach the jam-packed schedule.

"But I'm still going to try to play my normal schedule, which will probably be reasonably light, just so I'm fresh for the run at the end of the year – the PGA, the play-offs etc. It's flat out and hopefully there will be a trip to Australia in there as well. As long as everything gets back in order and we can travel, it will be hectic but a good hectic."

The coronavirus pandemic also forced the Olympic Games to be postponed until 2021 – Tokyo 2020 had initially been scheduled to start in July this year.

But Leishman – who grew up in the Victorian town of Warrnambool and represented the International team during December's Presidents Cup against the United States in Melbourne – is still eyeing a gold medal in Japan.

"I was really looking forward to that this year," the 36-year-old added. "I was in a good spot to be on the team. I'd love to be there to represent Australia. I was unable to be there last time [the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro]. The priority for me is to go and win a gold medal for Australia."

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