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Marc Leishman gains perspective after wife's health scare

SAN FRANCISCO -- A simple text message Wednesday all but had Marc Leishman in tears. The Australian had just defeated Justin Rose at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, and his wife, Audrey, sent word of congratulations.

For as routine as that might seem, Leishman looked at his phone in amazement.

"Every time I get a text off her ... as close as we were to losing her, it still feels really cool that I can get text messages off her and just do that," Leishman said after his 3-and-2 victory over Rose. "It's just cool to have her around. I hope it stays that way forever."

Earlier this month, Leishman was told his wife had a very small chance of surviving a series of infections that put her in a coma. Audrey Leishman first had flu-like symptoms, then strep throat that turned into pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome and toxic shock syndrome.

A visit to an after-care clinic turned into a life-threatening situation. Leishman, 31, who had been at Augusta National on April 1 preparing for the Masters, returned to his Virginia Beach, Virginia, home to see his wife on a ventilator, with her organs shutting down, her lungs filling with fluid and doctors telling him the prognosis was not good.

"It was very scary. I can clearly remember not being able to breathe," Audrey Leishman told the Australian Associated Press. "I am just grateful to be here. I appreciate everything."

"Probably if you had one of those things, the acute respiratory distress syndrome or sepsis or toxic shock, they can kill you by themselves," Marc Leishman said. "And she had them all at once. She was really, really sick.

"She's young, she's strong and got a real will to live for our two boys and me. ... We're building a new house at the moment. She's got all that to look forward to and I guess that's why she fought so hard and got through it somehow.

"It was unlikely that she was going to, but she's done an awesome job." Leishman said

Leishman said he had no choice but to think about life without her. Thoughts of giving up golf raced through his mind as his wife was put into a medically-induced coma just before Easter. Leishman withdrew from the Masters and was at her bedside as doctors conferred about ways to save her life.

A decision to turn Audrey on her stomach turned out to be a key decision, Leishman said. Despite the dire prognosis, she began to show improvement. Two days prior to the Masters she was taken off the ventilator and regained consciousness.

"It wasn't looking very good there a few weeks ago, but her rehab has gone really well," Leishman said. "She's ahead of schedule. She's got all the tools she needs to get better."

Although she won't be able to walk the course, Audrey Leishman and sons Harvey, 3, and Oliver, 20 months, will make the trip to Florida for the Players Championship, where "she's going to treat it as a bit of a holiday."

Leishman, whose lone PGA Tour victory came at the 2012 Travelers Championship, was paired with countryman Adam Scott during the final round of Scott's 2013 Masters victory. Leishman is ranked 60th in the world and returned to the tour last week at the Zurich Classic with a far different perspective on his golf.

"Sometimes you get into a mindset where you take it too seriously, like it's a life-and-death situation," he said. "And I've just been through a real one of those. I know that golf isn't life-and-death anymore. If I don't pull off a shot, it doesn't matter. It's not going to affect my life. I might make a bogey or double bogey or whatever, but it's not going to do anything for my life.

"I can be a bit more aggressive now feeling that, at the moment I'm playing pretty well, that's a good chance I'll pull it off and if I don't, I had a crack and try to do it on the next hole. It's been a great thing for my perspective on golf."

Leishman got off to a quick start against Rose, birdieing the first hole and never trailing the rest of the way against the 2013 U.S. Open champion, who was coming off a victory on Sunday at the Zurich Classic. He will play Ryan Palmer -- who lost to India's Anirban Lahiri in the other Group 6 match -- on Thursday.

"He played very well," Rose said. "I can't imagine he had a ton of practice coming out. I'm very happy for him and the situation, the way it worked out. Obviously it would be great to see Audrey on tour in the near future. It's an awesome story."