Marc Leishman came out firing on all cylinders at the BMW Championship, setting the pace early at Conway Farms.
With just four rounds to go before the FedEx Cup field is culled to its final 30, action at the BMW Championship started off fast and furious. 48 players in the field of 70 finished under par, but none could keep up with Marc Leishman. The Aussie star set the pace for the field with a sparkling round of nine-under par.
Leishman picked up right where he left off ten days ago at the Dell Technologies Championship. Finishing solo third at TPC Boston, Leishman led the field with a whopping 23 birdies. He even went 28 straight holes without carding a bogey, before five in his final nine holes set him back.
Even with the extended break, Leishman’s scoring remained white-hot at Conway Farms. A single bogey on the par-3 sixth hole was the only blemish on the scorecard. The rest of the day was spent basically sticking approach shots and sinking putts – Leishman hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation, and needed just 26 putts to get around.
At one point, it looked as though the 33-year-old might have made a run at 59, matching Jim Furyk’s course record set here back in 2013. Leishman stayed in the moment though, and didn’t allow himself to get too far ahead.
"“When you start thinking about the score before you finish,” he said, “that generally doesn’t end well.”"
Leishman driving toward FedEx Cup finale
Leishman admitted he didn’t hit a single shot during the “bye week” following the Dell Technologies Championship. Instead, he prepared himself for the push to the Tour Championship. Already secure at No. 7 in the points race, he began this week with one goal in mind: get into the top five.
With current No. 5 Jon Rahm sitting 810 points ahead of Leishman, that gap is going to be difficult to close.
Difficult, but not impossible.
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The FedEx Cup Playoffs, of course, offer massive bonuses for top-level performances. If Leishman holds on for the victory, he’ll earn 2,000 points, and likely jump into fourth place. Then, it would be on to East Lake, where he would control his own fate.
While many of the top FedEx Cup contenders are several shots off the pace, including Dustin Johnson at level par and Hideki Matsuyama at one over, Leishman won’t have a cake walk ahead.
A rejuvenated Jason Day (with a new caddie for the first time) is just two back, alongside Charley Hoffman and Jamie Lovemark. Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler lurk at -5, and overall, 22 players are within four shots of Leishman’s mark.
At this point in the season, momentum can be the difference maker between a win and a top-five, a solid season or the FedEx Cup championship. With a $10 million prize and the season championship looming, that factor is squarely in Leishman’s favor.
Leishman’s path to the FedEx Cup will get a lot clearer in the coming days. Can he take this wire-to-wire and set himself up for the Tour Championship?