Marc Leishman of Australia carded a 9-under par 62 to grab a two-stroke lead over fellow Aussie Jason Day, Jamie Lovemark and Charley Hoffman after the first round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill.
Leishman, who was seventh in the point standings entering the third event of the FedExCup playoffs, collected six birdies on the front nine and four more on the back, making his only bogey at No. 6.
“I’m hitting the ball well with all my clubs and the putter is cooperating again, so I made some putts,” said Leishman, who finished third in the Dell Technologies Championship in week two of the playoffs. “It’s great to get off to a start like this and I’m happy with the day.
“I had (59) on my mind but missed an eight-foot putt on 16 and didn’t hit it close on 17, so I knew (the chance for 59) was over, but I’m happy with 62.”
Day, who won at Conway Farms two years ago, overcame a stiff back by shooting a 64 that included a three-foot eagle putt on the eighth hole.
Hoffman equaled that score with birdies on the last two holes and Lovemark made it a three-way tie for third when he holed a seven-foot eagle putt at No. 18.
“I got off to a good start and obviously have great memories from 2015, when I was 10-under in the first round,” said Day, who tied for sixth in The Northern Trust to open the playoffs. “We’ve got nice weather and the greens are receptive, so you know there are going to be low scores.
“I’m a little stiff in the back, but I have my (therapist) here this week and he’s done a fantastic job.”
Jordan Spieth, the FedExCup points leader, opened with a bogey-free 65 and is tied for fourth with Rickie Fowler, who had six straight birdies through No. 17, Tony Finau, Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain and Keegan Bradley.
“I putted well all day,” said Spieth, who finished second each of the first two playoff events. “I hit only one of the first five greens in regulation, but was 2-under because I made some putts. I just played to the right spots and made some nice up-and-downs.
“It’s nice to go birdie free and when you feel like you are on a run, like now, you have to take advantage of it.”
Phil Mickelson carded a bogey-free 66 and is tied for 10th with Russell Henley, Cameron Smith of Australia and Webb Simpson.
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