International Team Captain Trevor Immelman hopes Australians Jason Day and Marc Leishman are simply warming up for the Presidents Cup next year.
Leishman and Day shot a bogey-free, 8-under-par 64 in the modified alternate shot format and took a three-stroke lead over three teams heading to the final round of the 33rd QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.
Day sank a 35-foot putt from the fringe on the final hole after Leishman earlier holed out for his third eagle in two days.
“It was nice to be able to roll that one in on the last hole,” Day said of his putt at No. 18, his fifth birdie of the round. “But, once again, (Leishman) is the highlight reel here, holing out again. I didn’t feel like I had a putt of over 10 feet until I got on the back side there somewhere so it was really hard to get any sort of momentum early, but I finally got it going.
“The greens feel like they’re a little bit furrier than yesterday. The grain kind of takes over when it gets a little bit longer so it was nice to be able to contribute today, but we’ve got one more day to go so we’ve got to stay focused.”
Added Leishman: “The guys went crazy-low today, and tomorrow is four-ball, so we’re going to have to go a lot lower than we did today. Just keep doing what we’re doing, give ourselves chances. Hopefully, we can play good and see where we end up. We’re going to have to shoot a really good round again to win.”
Day and Leishman led by one stroke after shooting 61 in the scramble format in the first round when Leishman chipped in for two eagles, and he got them going in round two by holing out from 96 yards for another eagle on the seventh hole. They added seven of their eight birdies on the back nine to post a 36-hole score of 24-under 120.
Billy Horschel and Sam Burns collected six of their 10 birdies on the back nine in a 62 and are tied for second with defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English, who eagled the first hole after a brilliant approach by English to kick-start at 66, and Kevin Na of Diamond Bar and Jason Kokrak, who birdied six of their last seven holes for a 64.
“We were a little disappointed to shoot only 61 yesterday in the scramble when several teams shot in the 50s,” Horschel said after he and Burns posted the low score of day two. “Our games really meshed today and we played much better. Sam’s putter got hot and he was rolling them in the way he has been for the last six months, so I was just riding his coattails.
“Sam was going to put the ball in the fairway because he hits it a long way, a lot further than I do. I was going to have to hit really good second shots, so I was just hoping to hit some really good close ones and I did. I hit some great wedge shots to 25 feet, 30 feet for putts that he made. It worked out very well.
Said Burns: “We were the only team to make a bogey yesterday, but today we were much more laid back and had a lot of fun out there.”
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Corey Conners of Canada rode an eagle on the 17th hole to a 67 and are four strokes behind in fifth, followed by Lexi Thompson, the only woman in the field, and Bubba Watson, as Thompson sank a 30-foot eagle putt at No. 13 to put them five down after a 66.
Will Zalatoris and Sean O’Hair made five birdies on the back nine in a 65 and are seven strokes back in a tie for seventh with Kevin Kisner and Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, who also had five birdies coming home in a 66.
Ian Poulter of England and Charles Howell III are nine shots back after a 68, while K.H. Lee of South Korea and Brand Snedeker shot 68 and are 10 down in a tie for 10th with Matt Jones of Australia and Ryan Palmer, who had a 69, and Brian Harman and Hudson Swafford are 11 strokes behind in 12th.
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