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Leishman 'brought golf to everyone's living rooms'

Published: 9:22AM Tuesday February 26, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

New Zealand's golfing fraternity is in mourning today, following the death of veteran broadcaster Phillip Leishman last night.

Leishman had a brain tumour operated on last March and it was hoped he would recover, but he fell seriously ill last week and died, aged 61, with family and friends at his bedside.

He was a passionate golfer and began producing golf-related shows that were broadcast around the world through his company Sportsinc (formally Uplink) in 1997.

New Zealand professional and 1992 Eisenhower Trophy winner Phil Tataurangi developed a friendship with Leishman through golf and spoke to Breakfast from the Hills golf course in Queenstown this morning.

"He did a great job with his golf show of popularising the game with the masses," Tataurangi said.

"There are a lot of people that tune into that show not only for the golf news, but also for the lifestyle news, he's brought the game to everyone's living rooms."

Throughout his career in golf journalism Leishman worked with the greats of the game including Tiger Woods, Greg Norman, Colin Montgomerie and Michael Campbell.

Tataurangi said he was well respected across the golfing world and wasn't afraid to mix it with the sport's biggest stars.

"He had a lot of courage as a Kiwi reporter in amongst the world's media, to get out and do his part for the New Zealand public to report and get access to some of those players.

"It's pretty easy to sometimes be intimidated by that environment, I never felt that Phil was intimidated by anybody, but he certainly got a great kick out of bringing experiences and interviews from people that most people in New Zealand don't have a connection with and interviewing them in a truly Kiwi way."

However it wasn't just the game's elite that Leishman was interested in and much of his work was focused on promoting the grassroots game in New Zealand, with local country courses and the characters that make them an important feature of his shows.

"He did a great job of getting out and getting around the world and exposing New Zealanders to the different golfing experiences around the world, but also the country course and club experiences that not only the golfer in Auckland gets a great kick out of, but those people in the rural areas, it's their time to shine and Phil and his team have done a fantastic job over the years of bringing a lot of great memories to a lot of great people."

'Sir' Phillip Leishman

Dean Murphy, the Chief Executive of New Zealand Golf, was also a good friend of Leishman. He praised the broadcaster today.

"It is an incredibly sad day for our team today and we have Phillips wonderful family firmly in our thoughts," said Murphy.

"Phillip was not only an important man in the world of golf - he was a great friend who was very close to many of us at New Zealand Golf.

"It is obvious that Phillip's contribution to the game of golf in New Zealand has been immense. His endeavours to promote and support the game of golf have been substantial and we are incredibly indebted to his tireless effort and professionalism in this area.

"Today however we are not mindful of the great work he has done for the game of golf, but thinking with fondness about the type of person he was.

"I affectionately called him Sir Phillip Leishman whenever we spoke. While always said with a smile, this title was a genuine reflection of the high esteem in which I held the man. To me he was a man that stood apart from everyone else and a man I was privileged to know. His humility, friendliness, kindness and openness were all qualities that I came to know and love about Phillip. I shall dearly miss his guidance and friendship."

Leishman was said to be especially proud of the achievements of teenage golf sensation Lydia Ko and her coach Guy Wilson tweeted his condolences today saying " true gentleman... Keep watching Phil".

Others from the golfing community to pay their respects include former Kiwi pros Frank Nobilo and Craig Perks, who have both forged careers in golf broadcasting on the United States Golf Channel.

"All of New Zealand has lost a great man. Saddened to hear we lost @PhillipLeishman last night. Was brave in his fight, and touched many #RIP," Perks said on Twitter.

Nobilo added: "NZ lost a great Sporting broadcaster last night. Philip Leishman was our Jim McKay. I was one if the lucky ones ...I knew him as a friend."