“I’ve always been a long hitter,” Leblanc said. “First off, I’m very tall so that helps with my leverage. Also, when I was younger I was the only girl in the school program. I was always trying to hit it as far as the boys did, just to keep up. So my swing speed went up as a result.”
Athletic ability is another attribute that drives her length. She was a good basketball player as a teenager and seriously considered trying a career in tennis, a sport she still plays when off the course.
Leblanc leads the Symetra Tour with a 279.1-yard average, nearly eight yards better than second place. On other tours, the longest drivers are the LPGA’s Joanna Klatten (273.9) and the Ladies European Tour’s Carlota Ciganda (276.2 in 2014).
The 26-year-old Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada native is proud of her ability to drive to ball a long way mainly because it gives her a distinct advantage.
“I usually fly the ball at least 260 yards,” Leblanc said. “It really gives me an advantage on this tour. Most girls can’t get to some of the bunkers and obstacles, which I can clear most of the time. I guess the only thing is trouble is also closer to me.”
Leblanc has had to learn to scale back two times during her career, mentally and physically.
Both mental challenges came during her college career at Purdue. As a French-Canadian, Leblanc struggled with the transition to an English-speaking American university. “For the first three months, I was walking around with an English pocket dictionary,” she said. During her All-American career at Purdue, she helped lead the Lady Boilermakers to the 2010 NCAA Women’s Championship, the first time a northern school won the national title. The entire roster was made up of non-American players. But before she was able to use her skills, Leblanc had to control her temper, which led coach Devon Brouse to pull her from the lineup at one tournament during her junior season.
Leblanc was a LPGA member in 2012 and 2013 and was in position to continue her career ascent. But midway through 2013, Leblanc suffered three stress fractures in her back that slowed her down. The Wegmans LPGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y., was the final straw.
“I was just hitting from the rough too much, and on the LPGA the rough is a lot longer,” Leblanc said. “I had a couple of bad lies at Rochester and tried to hit it hard and that was it.”
There was no treatment for the injury except for rest. So beginning in August 2013, Leblanc missed nearly seven months of competition. All she could do was chip and putt.
“Sometimes you take your health for granted,” Leblanc said. “Now, it feels amazing to have no pain at all.”
Just when her distance advantage may have been diminished, Leblanc came back stronger with a swing revision.
“I don’t think I try to hit it as hard as before,” Leblanc said. “I think my swing speed has slowed down some, but it’s also taken some spin off the ball. I’m not hitting the ball shorter but farther.”
The return to her previous level of excellence has been another lesson. At first, Leblanc tried to double dip on the LPGA and Symetra Tours. That didn’t work in 2014 when she lost her LPGA status.
“I was chasing two rabbits and lost both of them last year,” Leblanc said. “I’m just focusing on the Symetra Tour this year. I might play in the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open because it’s home, but I won’t go back and forth.”