Happiness for Leishman is a Tour victory

Victory in the lucrative Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa was a fairytale finish to what started out as the year from hell for Australian golfer Marc Leishman.

The Victorian almost lost his wife Audrey in April after she fell seriously ill with toxic shock syndrome, a rare but life-threatening bacterial infection which resulted in her being put into an induced coma in a hospital near their home in Virginia Beach.

Leishman was in Augusta at the time preparing for the Masters, but rushed home and spent most of the next five days by his wife's side.

"It really put things in perspective," he said after returning to the Tour three weeks later with his wife on the road to recovery.

"You have your bad days on the course, or think it's a bad day, then you go through something like this. Your life gets turned upside down. Three weeks ago it was looking like I was going to be done with golf."

With Audrey now progressing well, Marc was able to finish the year on a high in the European Tour event, shooting a final- round five-under par 67 to finish on 19-under, six shots clear of Sweden's Henrik Stenson. The victory saw him pocket almost $A1.75million, and was expected to lift him to No.26 on the world rankings.

"I'm pretty happy to have this year over, to be honest," the 32-year-old said.

"Audrey got very sick and I lost an uncle who I was very close to. This tops off what was otherwise not a great year. Three weeks ago we moved into a new house, so this will help pay for that."

In between the lowest and highest points of his year, Leishman almost claimed his first major, losing a three-way play-off at the Open Championship at St Andrews to American Zach Johnson.

Poised to become the first Australian winner of the event since Greg Norman when he led by a stroke with three holes to play, Leishman was forced into a playoff when Johnson and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen birdied the 18th.

The Aussie's luck then deserted him on the first playoff hole, his perfect drive down the first ending in a divot which saw his approach finish a long way from the hole, leading to a costly three-putt.

He had no such dramas in his final round at the Gary Player Country Club.

Starting the day with a one-shot lead over Stenson, Leishman was three ahead by the seventh and had the event in his keeping after birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th.

While Leishman finished on 19-under, the other Australian in the invitation-only event, Queenslander Steve Bowditch, finished at the other end of the field at 19-over, but still pocketed almost $140,000 for his efforts.

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