Marc Leishman was flying in round one at the Wells Fargo Championship when golf’s most dreaded shot reared its ugly head.
The Australian teed off the 10th and bagged four straight birdies on his opening nine at TPC Potomac starting at the 13th. But at the par-3 17th, Leishman airmailed the green for his tee shot. Then his pitch shot took a nasty kick into a greenside bunker. Then Leishman hit a cold, hard shank which shot into the water hazard.
The shank nearly took out the legs of playing partner, Canadian Corey Conners. He had to take a drop in the same spot in the bunker and took a triple-bogey six.
“I was actually thinking about holing it,” Leishman said with a laugh. “I opened the face right up and tried to slip the club under the ball. It scared the hell out of me. It had some speed on it, too. It scared Corey. You’re good for a shank every few years and hopefully that’s my shank out of the way.”
Conners thought it was funny. He showed stereotypical Canadian manners by suggesting he should have blocked Leishman’s ball from going in the water.
“Marc’s got a pretty nice short game so I wasn’t really expecting to be in danger there,” Conners said afterwards. “Then, I thought, I wish I didn’t move because the ball would’ve nailed me in the middle of the leg and he would’ve had a putt from the middle of the green instead of being in the water. We didn’t say anything afterward. It was funny.”
The triple-bogey brought Leishman back to even par. But he birdied the next hole and posted a one-under back nine to salvage an adventurous 68.
He sits at two-under-par and just three shots behind clubhouse leaders Matt Wolff, Denny McCarthy, Aaron Rai and Callum Tarren (65) at the par-70 TPC Potomac.
Leishman said it wasn’t even the biggest shank he’s ever hit. That honour belongs to a shank he hit playing with Tiger Woods at the 2018 Northern Trust at Ridgewood CC in New Jersey.
“No, I’ve had some good ones,” Leishman laughed. “I had a good one playing with Tiger actually. He was right next to me. It wasn’t close to him but it shot straight over the crowd. It was at Ridgewood in 2018. We both laughed. Everyone has a shank but you hope it’s not at a Tour event.”
Despite the shank, Leishman feels good about his chances at TPC Potomac. The course, which is located just outside Washington, DC, hosted the 2017 Quicken Loans National and Leishman finished tied fifth that year.
“I’m feeling really good,” he said. “My game has been good and a 68 was a pretty good score around a tough course. I’m striking the ball great and putter is feeling good in my hands. Hopefully it’s a good sign not just for this week but for the next few months with a few more Majors this year.”