Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Coach Jeff Leishman Helped PGA Tour Rookie Make History at U.S. Open

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Coach Jeff Leishman Helped PGA Tour Rookie Make History at U.S. Open

Article excerpt

Canadian golf coach takes unique approach

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As 21-year-old Daniel Berger closed out the U.S. Open last weekend with a birdie putt 18, his Canadian coach Jeff Leishman knew he had witnessed something special.

But he didn't realize at the time that his student had just made history by shooting the lowest Sunday round ever at Pinehurst No. 2.

"I just knew that it was a darn good round," said Leishman, a native of Alliston, Ont. "So yes, it was gratifying."

Berger's 66 in the final round left him tied for 28th at one of golf's four majors, an impressive result for his PGA Tour debut. The Florida native says his work with Leishman over the past five-plus years played a key role.

"We've spent so much time together that he just understands what I want to hear," said the former Florida State Seminole. "He gives it to me straight in a way that I can understand so that I can go out and turn it into good things."

Leishman, whose client list also includes PGA regulars Will MacKenzie, Tom Gillis and former Canadian Open winner Carl Pettersson, takes a unique approach to teaching, believing that a truly perfect swing is unattainable.

"If I'm coaching you and you're a client, we're not going to be dealing with trying to make your swing technically perfect because there is no such thing," Leishman said in a recent phone interview. "It doesn't exist."

Instead of reconstructing his client's swing, he looks to "take something that's already good and make it just a little bit better," by identifying each of his golfer's unique styles and motions.

This approach works especially well with Berger, who says he relies more on feel than mechanics.

"Jeff will give me drills in practice that allow me to feel the feeling that he wants me to experience," said Berger, who is playing on the Web.com Tour. "We don't really work on things like angles or planes. …

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