Marc Leishman has a short memory when it comes to golf, which only helped him at the BMW Championship.
He forgot all about that 62 in the opening round.
He was nearly just as good Friday with a seven-under 64 to open a three-shot lead over Jason Day and Rickie Fowler going into the weekend at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill.
“I really took that as a challenge today, to not take it for granted that you’re just going to make birdies,” Leishman said. “You still have to earn every birdie. I think when you do get ahead of yourself, that’s when bad stuff can happen.”
There was plenty of good stuff from the guys chasing him in the third FedEx Cup playoff event.
Day, who has gone 16 months since his last victory, chipped in from behind the 14th green for his second eagle of the week, and then added a third eagle with one swing. He made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole with a seven-iron that turned into a payoff for multiple parties.
It carried day to a 65, putting him in the last group on the weekend with Leishman. BMW awarded $100,000 to the Evans Scholars Foundation, and then Day decided to give the car he won to the Evans Scholars, which will yield another full, four-year scholarship for another student.
Fowler also chipped in for eagle on the reachable par-four 15th hole on his way to a 64.
“The ultimate goal is to win this week,” Day said. “That’s the thing I’ve been trying to do this whole season — at least win once, and try to build on that.”
Leishman was at 16-under 126, two short of the 36-hole record Day set at Conway Farms two years ago on his way to a wire-to-wire, six-shot victory. Leishman has some experience with that, but it was long ago and the memory is vague, naturally. He recalls opening with a 70 at the Toyota Southern Classic on the Von Nida Tour in Australia and winning big.
He already has 18 birdies in 36 holes at Conway Farms, where the scoring average was a shade under 69 through two rounds.
It hasn’t been easy for everyone, particularly defending champion Dustin Johnson. The world’s No. 1 player can’ seem to buy a putt, and even when he started to make a little progress, he finished bogey-bogey by taking two chips to get on the 17th green and hitting into the water on the 18th.
Patrick Cantlay extended his remarkable run this season with a 65, leaving him alone in fourth place but six shots behind. Cantlay returned after three years away to cope with a severe back injury and the death of his close friend and caddie, Chris Roth, who was hit by a car as they were walking to dinner.
Cantlay is playing his 11th tournament this year, yet he is No. 41 in the FedEx Cup and could get into the Tour Championship if he finishes in the top 30 after this week. Phil Mickelson is trying to work his way into the top 30, and while he sputtered with two birdies, two bogeys and too many pars, he drilled an approach to within five feet on the par-five 14th for an eagle. He shot 69 and was at seven-under 135, in a tie for 12th.
Jordan Spieth, No. 1 in the FedEx Cup after successive runner-up finishes in the playoff events, only managed a 70 and joined Mickelson in the group at 135.
Park leads by three shots at Evian Championship
Sung Hyun Park took full advantage of a fresh start to the Evian Championship in France, firing an eight-under 63 to lead the rescheduled first round by three shots.
That meant a 14-shot turnaround for the No. 3-ranked Park, who had been six over in the rain and wind on Thursday morning. Play was abandoned and all scores wiped from the record, leaving the fifth and final women’s major as a 54-hole event.
The South Korean regrouped and had seven birdies and an eagle to lead by three from Australia’s Katherine Kirk (66).
Park, the U.S. Women’s Open champion, played in a stellar group with top-ranked So Yeon Ryu (75) and No. 2 Lexi Thompson (70). Ryu suffered a six-shot swing having been two under on Thursday when play stopped.
Two-way tie for lead at Champions event
Steve Flesch and Jerry Smith each shot seven-under 64 to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship.
Flesh is making his 12th senior start after turning 50 in May. The four-time PGA Tour winner had four birdies in a five-hole stretch on Bear Mountain’s Mountain Course in Victoria, Canada, and capped the bogey-free round with a birdie on the par-five 18th.
Smith also closed with a birdie and had six birdies in a seven-hole span before bogeying the par-three 14th. He has one senior title.
Charles Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer was a stroke back along with John Daly, David Toms and Jerry Kelly.
Canadian Stephen Ames topped the group at 66. Defending champion Colin Montgomerie opened with a 70. He won last week outside Tokyo in the 50-and-over tour’s first event in Japan.
Stalter on top of weather-delayed KLM Open
Joel Stalter of France shot a four-under 67 to take a one-stroke clubhouse lead at the KLM Open before bad light suspended play with nearly half the field still to complete their second rounds.
Stalter followed up his opening-round 65 to move to 10 under par on Friday and stay in contention for a first victory in his first year on the European Tour. He has already rolled in 14 birdies at The Dutch in Spijk, Netherlands, this week.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand was alone in second place after a 65. Former No. 1 Lee Westwood also shot 65, containing six birdies and no dropped shots, and was three shots back.
With Thursday’s afternoon session wiped out by bad weather, the tournament was playing catch-up. Seventy players in the remaining field of 148 didn’t finish their second rounds Friday. Defending champion Joost Luiten was two under after 12 holes of his second round. He is currently tied for 82nd at two over par and fighting to make the weekend.