Marc Leishman is in a familiar spot at the end of the second round of the BMW Championship. He leads at 16 under by three strokes over Rickie Fowler and Jason Day. It’s the same position Leishman was in at the Dell Technologies Championship two weeks ago (although there he was tied with Justin Thomas going into the final round). In both situations, though, Leishman had big-name stars chasing from behind as he tried to set the pace before the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Leishman followed his 9-under 62 on Thursday with an equally-impressive 7-under 64 on Friday at Conway Farms. He went bogey-free all the way until his 17th hole of the day, but he made up for that with another birdie on No. 18 to get three clear of Day and Fowler and six clear of everyone else in the field. His 126 total is the second-lowest 36-hole total on the PGA Tour this season.
Leishman has been nearly flawless on the week. He’s No. 2 in putting and No. 1 in strokes gained tee to green. It doesn’t get a lot better than that.
“The game is feeling really good,” Leishman told reporters. “Obviously rolling the putts really well. But, you know, you have to give yourself the opportunities. Lot of work to do. Hopefully I can keep doing what I’m doing. Lot of great players just behind me, so you, know I need to keep the foot on the pedal.”
He’s right about the last part. Day, who won this tournament on this course in 2015, and Fowler are also playing lights out. They’re three clear of the rest of the competition, and this event sure has the feel of a three-horse race halfway through.
Fowler was even par through 11 holes on Thursday before playing the next 25 in 13 under. That’s 12 birdies and an eagle in 25 holes over the course of Thursday and Friday. He sits just outside the ever-important top five in the FedEx Cup standings, but he can sneak in that top five with a win this week.
“We’re off to a good start this week for sure. Back nine has been great,” said Fowler, who is 10 under alone on the back side of the course this week. “Just got off to shaky start yesterday. I felt like I got off to a nice start today, had some great looks. Didn’t make anything on the front nine. Could have been a really low one.”
Day has three eagles in two days,. He looks to be back in something close to his 2015 form when he won five times. The Australian’s year has been mildly disappointing, but he noted on Friday that he can still get away with a win and take a little momentum into 2018.
“It has been awhile since I’ve been in this position but I’m not saying that it’s not a surprise, no … actually heading in the right direction,”. “Coming back to a tournament golf course that I played well in the past … the cumulative score under par since being here is pretty low. Hopefully I can keep pushing that forward that way.
“The ultimate goal is to win this week. That’s the thing I’ve been trying to do this whole season is be able to at least, like I said, at least win once and try to build on that. I’ve been working very, very hard over these last couple months trying to get myself into contention and, like I said, getting to the Tour Championship is huge.”
Day’s issues this season have been mostly on approach shots. He’s outside the top 100 in strokes gained in that category, which won’t win you your club championship much less a PGA Tour event. Day appears to have tightened that up this week, though, as he’s No. 1 in a field of 69 players.
The fun part about Conway Farms is that anything can happen on a score-able course like this. Leishman just posted 16 under over two days, which means you could see somebody come from way back in the pack if the leaders falter. However, with the way Leishman has been playing and the pedigrees Fowler and Day possess, it’s tough to see that happening. The winner of the 2017 BMW Championship is likely to come from that trio, but just who it will be remains to be seen.