Marc Leishman's teacher had a plan for his young student in 2002: "Marc had players he looked up to—like Greg Norman and Ernie Els—but we never tried to copy a swing. We continually tried to develop a better version of Marc Leishman."
At 18, Leishman, who is Australian, met teacher Denis McDade and entered the renowned Victoria Institute of Sport in Australia. VIS is the government-funded program that has produced players like Geoff Ogilvy and Stuart Appleby and has become a blueprint worldwide for developing elite golfers.
Now 14 years later, McDade has seen Leishman go from top junior player to 2009 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year to major-championship contender. (He lost to Zach Johnson in a playoff at the British Open last summer.)
Leishman got an early start in the game, at Warrnambool Golf Club across the street from his childhood home. He says he learned more by playing than practicing and was always challenging someone to a contest. "The course required creativity and the ability to maneuver the ball," McDade says. "The result is a player who has more shots than anyone I've ever coached."