LEISH­MAN OFF TO BLIS­TER­ING START

Aus­tralian leads by two at BMW Cham­pi­onship

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MARC Leish­man blasted out of the gate at the BMW Cham­pi­onship on Thurs­day, fir­ing a nine-un­der par 62 to take a two-shot first-round lead over Ja­son Day, Charley Hoff­man and Jamie Love­mark in the US PGA Tour’s penul­ti­mate play­off event.

Leish­man, 33, came into the tour­na­ment in sev­enth place in the FedEx Cup stand­ings.

But with his siz­zling round at Con­way Farms he stole the spot­light from Jor­dan Spi­eth, who leads the play­off stand­ings and played along­side Justin Thomas and Dustin John­son — who are right be­hind Spi­eth in the race for the US$10 mil­lion (RM42 mil­lion) play­off se­ries bonus.

Leish­man set the tone with a birdie at the first, one of six birdies with one bo­gey on his front nine.

Day sliced into that lead with five birdies in a storm­ing back nine.

For­mer world num­ber one Day, who this week an­nounced that long­time coach Col Swat­ton would no longer serve as his cad­die, re­bounded from a bo­gey at the sec­ond hole with a birdie at the fourth and an ea­gle at the par-five eighth — where he landed his sec­ond shot three feet from the pin.

Day, play­ing with long­time friend Luke Rear­don on his bag, capped his back nine with a four-foot birdie at the par-five 18th to com­plete his seven-un­der 64.

Love­mark seized his share of sec­ond place with an ea­gle at the 18th, while Hoff­man rapped in a six-foot birdie putt at the last to com­plete his seven-un­der ef­fort.

Rickie Fowler pow­ered to a 65, string­ing to­gether six straight birdies from the 12th through the 17th to join Bri­tish Open cham­pion Spi­eth on six-un­der.

Spi­eth, run­ner-up in each of the pre­vi­ous two FedEx Cup events, had six-birdies with­out a bo­gey to join a group that also in­cluded Spain’s Rafa Cabr­era Bello and Amer­i­cans Kee­gan Bradley and Tony Finau.

Five-time ma­jor win­ner Phil Mick­el­son headed a group on five-un­der 66 after a bo­gey-free round.

Thomas, who beat Spi­eth in the Dell Cham­pi­onship at TPC Bos­ton two weeks ago, re­bounded from a dou­ble-bo­gey at the par-three 11th with three birdies in the fi­nal five holes for a 67.

De­spite card­ing an ea­gle on the par-five 14th hole, world num­ber one John­son could only man­age a level-par 71.

Reign­ing FedEx Cup cham­pion Rory McIl­roy, who needs a top-four fin­ish to ad­vance to the Tour Cham­pi­onship next week and keep his hopes of de­fend­ing the ti­tle alive, opened with a one-over par 72. AFP

AFP PIC

Marc Leish­man hits his ap­proach shot on the 16th dur­ing the first round of the BMW Cham­pi­onship on Thurs­day.

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