At Masters, Marc Leishman enters unfamiliar territory

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Sports,Golf,Kevin Dunleavy

If the name of golfer Marc Leishman doesn't resonate, you're not alone. For most of Thursday's first round of the Masters, Leishman was in the lead with his 6-under-par 66, sending fans and reporters scurrying to learn more about the 29-year-old from Australia.

No tournament has a more distinguished list of winners than the Masters. But that doesn't mean a lot of unknowns haven't had their 15 minutes of fame in the opening round. Here are some of those who have held the lead: Dennis Paulson (2000), Robert Wrenn (1988), Jack Renner (1983), John Schlee (1978) and Skee Riegel (1950).

All of those players faded from the leader board, some faster than others. The most unsightly example of someone realizing he was out of his element came in 1990 when 34-year-old Mike Donald matched the best opening round in the history of the tournament with his 64. The next day he shot 18 strokes worse.

In 1952, Raymond Gafford shared the lead with another less-than-immortal, Johnny Palmer. After his opening-round 69, however, Gafford shot scores of 80, 81 and 80, finishing 24 strokes behind winner Sam Snead.

While Leishman is likely headed for a similar fate, he at least has some pedigree to fall back on. He was the PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2009, and 10 months ago he won his first PGA Tour event in spectacular fashion, firing a final-round 62 to come from six shots back and beat Charley Hoffman and last year's Masters winner, Bubba Watson, by one stroke in the Travelers Championship.

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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