Leishman in driver’s seat with five-shot lead
A victory would make him one of the top five seeds at the Tour Championship next week
LAKE FOREST, ILL.— As much as Marc Leishman has been through, especially off the golf course, it takes a lot to get to get under his skin.
He tells his wife after a particularly bad round to just give him 10 minutes and he’ll be fine.
His previous tournament, when Leishman lost a two-shot lead on the back nine at the TPC Boston, was an exception.
“That one probably took a day,” he said. “It stung a bit.”
Saturday at the BMW Championship brought Leishman on the verge of redemption. Leishman got up-and-down from a tough lie behind the 18th green for one last birdie that gave him a 3-under 68 and extended his lead to five shots over Jason Day and Rickie Fowler going into the final round at Conway Farms.
Leishman, who was at19-under194, gets another chance to win a FedEx Cup playoff event and grab one of the top five seeds at the Tour Championship next week. The top seeds have a clear path to claim the $10 million (U.S.) bonus.
And this opportunity is much better than two weeks ago.
Leishman shared the 54-hole lead at the Dell Technologies Championship TPC Boston with Justin Thomas, who surged past Leishman and held off Jordan Spieth. This time, no one could make a run at him on a warm day with a steady wind that made conditions faster.
Fowler rolled in a 25-foot eagle putt from just short of the green on the opening hole, and made only one birdie the rest of the way. He missed putts from the six-foot range on consecutive holes on the back nine, one of them for birdie, and couldn’t make birdie with an iron in his hand for his second on the par-5 18th.
Day pulled within two shots with a birdie at the turn, but played the back nine with eight pars and a bogey. He also had an iron for his second shot on the18th, but it plugged into the side of the bunker. Fowler and Day each shot 70. “Leish is playing spectacular,” Day said. “He’s going to be very difficult to beat (Sunday.) I’ve got to come and play really good golf.”
Mackenzie Hughes, of Dundas, Ont., is the low Canadian at nine under after a 69.
The excitement figured to come from the race to East Lake.
The top 30 in the FedEx Cup advance to next week’s Tour Championship, where all have a mathematical chance at the $10 million bonus and are assured spots in every major except the PGA Championship next year.
Phil Mickelson, finally finding his form late in the year, has a chance to make it to the Tour Championship. He had a 69 — his seventh straight round in the 60s — but failed to take advantage of the easiest par 4 — the reachable 15th — and took bogey on both par 3s.
“I’m playing well enough to get in contention and win again,” said Mickelson, whose last trophy came from the British Open in 2013.
Going into Sunday, Masters champion Sergio Garcia and a pair of PGA Tour rookies, Canada’s Hughes and Patrick Cantlay, were projected into top 30.
Marc Leishman tees off at the fourth during third-round play at the BMW Championship on Saturday. He enters Sunday’s final round with a five-shot lead.