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BMW Championship 2017

Round 4 - Wire to wire win for Marc Leishman

September 18, 2017

The clutch shots down the stretch in the BMW Championship belonged to everyone except the winner.

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Marc Leishman didn't really need them.

Staked to a five-shot lead, and determined to not let another FedEx Cup playoff event get away from him. Leishman never gave anyone much of a chance Sunday at Conway Farms. And when Justin Rose made a late run and closed within two shots, Leishman made back-to-back birdies to put away the final challenge, and then added one more for a 4-under 67 to set the tournament scoring record.

Leishman went wire-to-wire for the first time on the PGA Tour. The Australian moved up to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup, giving him a clear shot at the $10 million bonus next week. He moved into the top 15 in the world.

But this mainly was about redemption for losing a two-shot lead on the back nine at the TPC Boston two weeks ago.

''When the pressure got put on that back nine by Rosie, I reacted with birdies,'' Leishman said. ''Didn't get too worried. Just tried to keep doing my own thing and give myself chances. ... Backing up what happened (in Boston) was probably the most satisfying thing for me. I was just really determined to not let that happen again.''

Leishman finished at 23-under 261, breaking the 72-hole tournament record that Tiger Woods set at Cog Hill in 2007.

Rose ran out of hope when he made bogey on the par-3 17th and closed with a 65. Rickie Fowler ran off three straight birdies only after he was too far back and shot 67. They finished five shots behind.

Fowler needed a birdie on the par-5 18th to grab the No. 5 seed for the FedEx Cup finale next week at the Tour Championship. He ripped driver off the fairway and over the stream to the back rough. It was a bold play that preceded a pair of meager efforts - a chip that came up 25 feet short, and a birdie putt that didn't get to the hole.

Jon Rahm birdied four of his last five holes for a 67 and will be the No. 5 seed.

Jordan Spieth shot 65 to tie for seventh and kept the No. 1 seed, followed by Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Leishman and Rahm. The points are reset to give all 30 players at East Lake a mathematical chance, but the top five seeds only have to win the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup.

As usual, the only drama at Conway Farms was who made it to East Lake, and a pair of PGA Tour rookies delivered.

Xander Schauffele, who won The Greenbrier Classic in July, opened with 10 pars and two bogeys and was not even in the picture until the San Diego native played his final six holes in 6-under par, including a 30-foot eagle when he drove the green on the par-4 15th.

''A dream year for me,'' Schauffele said. ''Pretty much every goal I came up with and I've got to start creating some new ones.''

Patrick Cantlay fell out of the top 30 when he took bogey on the 16th hole. Needing a birdie to get into the Tour Championship, he hit a hybrid onto the green to 50 feet, left his eagle attempt some 10 feet short and calmly holed the putt to get in.

Cantlay returned to golf after a three-year break from a back injury that nearly ended his career, and the death of his close friend and caddie, Chris Roth, who was hit by car as they walked to dinner. The former UCLA star made it to the Tour Championship despite playing only 11 events this year. Being in the top 30 gets him into the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open next year.

Tony Finau wasn't sure what he needed, but he knew a bogey wasn't going to help and he was nestled in the rough behind the green after his third shot. Finau, No. 39 in the standings, chipped in for birdie and a 64 and moved into the top 30.

''To see it go in was ... man, the feeling that I have is pretty fantastic,'' Finau said.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia injected more drama than necessary. He figured he needed a par on the final hole to get into the top 30 when a bogey would have worked. His second shot was on the rocks in the stream, and after taking close to 30 minutes on a drop, he smacked it over the green into the grandstand, got more relief, and then got up-and-down for his par.

Phil Mickelson wasn't so fortunate. He made three bogeys on the front nine and tried to get back in the game with an eagle on the reachable par-4 15th. Needing an eagle on the 18th hole to make it to East Lake, Mickelson's 140-foot pitch-and-run hit the hole and popped out. After the 30-minute wait on Garcia.

Leishman won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March at Bay Hill. The third victory of his tour career was by far the biggest, and went far beyond the strong field, the $1,575,000 paycheck or his standing in the FedEx Cup.

Leishman pegged this event as a chance to spread awareness for sepsis and toxic shock syndrome, which nearly killed his wife two years ago. He asked the players to wear ribbons on their caps this week to celebration Sepsis Awareness Month. And then he went wire-to-wire, walking off the 18th green to see his wife, Audrey, and their three young children.

Round 3 - Marc Leishman five clear

September 17, 2017

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 that even after a particularly bad round, give him 10 minutes and he'll be fine.

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His last 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 at 19-under 194, 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 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 and more difficult.

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 6-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 shot 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 the 18th, 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 tomorrow. I've got to come and play really good golf because he's not making any mistakes. He's hitting it in the right spots, hitting in on the greens and holing putts. That's a good formula for success.''

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 at Conway Farms - 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. ''And I want to get in that field because I think if I do, I think I'll have a really good shot at it.''

Going into Sunday, Masters champion Sergio Garcia and a pair of PGA Tour rookies, Mackenzie Hughes and Patrick Cantlay, were projected to get into the top 30.

Still in the mix is Stewart Cink, who next week during the Tour Championship receives the Payne Stewart Award. Cink at one point was projected inside the top 30 until closing with a pair of bogeys. Just like everyone else, there's one more day.

The race for the BMW Championship title has fewer possibilities.

Justin Rose had a 66 and was alone in fourth, though he was seven shots behind. Jon Rahm of Spain had a 65 and joined the large group at 11-under 202 that included Cantlay, Matt Kuchar and Charley Hoffman.

It would cap off a big week for Leishman in other ways.

His wife, Audrey, nearly died two years ago from toxic shock syndrome. She eventually recovered, and this year gave birth to a daughter, Eva, their third child. To recognizes Sepsis Awareness Month, Leishman arranged for players to wear ribbons on their caps.

''That's what took Audrey ill to being with, and we're just trying to get an awareness out there,'' he said.

He created the ''Begin Again Foundation'' to help families that have gone through tough times with sepsis and toxic shock syndrome, and already have helped 700 families. Leishman is sure to get plenty of attention with a wire-to-wire victory at the BMW Championship.

Now he just has to finish.

''After what happened at the Dell I got extra determination to finish this one off and my game is in a better spot,'' he said.

Round 2 - Marc Leishman stretches lead to three

September 16, 2017

Marc Leishman has a short memory when it comes to golf, which only helped him at the BMW Championship.

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He forgot all about that 62 in the opening round.

He was nearly just as good Friday with a 7-under 64 to open a three-shot lead over Jason Day and Rickie Fowler going into the weekend at Conway Farms.

''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 7-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-4 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 5 feet on the par-5 14th for an eagle. He shot 69 and was at 7-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.

Leishman is hitting his stride at just the right time. Two weeks ago at the TPC Boston, he took a two-shot lead into the back nine only to get passed by Justin Thomas and Spieth by shooting 40 on the back nine to finish third behind Thomas.

After a week at home in Virginia, with the clubs never leaving the garage, he picked up where he left off.

It's easy to overlook Leishman because the Australian has only two PGA Tour victories, including the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this year. He's OK with that, and laughs at hearing fans whisper as he walks by, ''Who's that bloke?'' That was his phrase, though apparently he's heard it Down Under, too.

As for that short memory, he does have some specific recall of tournaments long ago.

One of them was eight years ago in the Chicago area. It was his rookie season on the PGA Tour. He made an eagle on the 18th hole at the TPC Boston just to advance to the third round at No. 67. Then, he was paired with Tiger Woods in the final round at Cog Hill.

''I remember being really, really nervous on the first tee, which I'm generally not a nervous person, but that was a new thing for me,'' he said.

He also remembers having an eagle putt on the ninth hole, with Woods well to the right off the tee and then stuck behind a tree. Woods hit a 9-iron out of trouble and ended up making birdie, and he went on to win by eight shots.

But that was a big day for Leishman. He tied for second and advanced to the Tour Championship for the first time, leading to his first appearance in the Masters. That's no longer an issue. Leishman now is No. 7 in the FedEx Cup and simply trying to win to get into the top five heading to the Tour Championship.

Round 1 - Marc Leishman leads with opening 62

September 15, 2017

Marc Leishman left his golf clubs in his garage during his week break from the FedEx Cup playoff and it didn't change anything. He made 10 birdies in the opening round of the BMW Championship for a 9-under 62 to build a two-shot lead.

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Jason Day made the biggest change of his career and had a 64, his best start in 16 months.

The race to the FedEx Cup finale got off to a blistering start Thursday at Conway Farms, and no one could top Leishman. The Australian finished third at the TPC Boston two weeks ago, did nothing last week except practice putting in the room above his garage, and then ran off seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch in the middle of his round and matched his best score on the PGA Tour.

''When you play golf and all you're thinking about his making birdies, it's a lot easier than trying to not make bogeys,'' Leishman said.

Day made five birdies on the back nine to atone for a sluggish start in a tournament where his expectations were up in the air. He decided last week that Colin Swatton, the most meaningful figure in his golf career, would no longer caddie for at least the rest of the year. Day instead used an old roommate from his school days in Australia, Luke Reardon. If that wasn't enough, he also changed putters.

That might not have been nearly as significant as the good vibes from a six-shot victory at Conway Farms two years ago. Whatever the case, he had no complaints about his lowest score since a 63 in the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, and his best opening round since a 63 at The Players Championship a year ago, which was the last tournament he won.

''A good step in the right direction, especially with having Luke on the bag,'' Day said. ''Obviously, not having Colin on the bag is something different and I just didn't know how I was going to play. I think Luke did a fantastic job out there. We worked well together and hope we can keep that going.''

Charley Hoffman, picked for the Presidents Cup a week ago, birdied his last two holes for a 64. Jamie Lovemark also had a 64 with a little more style, drilling a fairway metal over the creek to 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 18th.

Jordan Spieth, a runner-up in the last two FedEx Cup playoff events to take over the No. 1 spot in the standings, turned a wild tee shot into a birdie on the opening hole, added a 30-foot birdie from off the green at No. 5 and settled down the rest of the way for a bogey-free 65.

''I felt like I really stole a few shots out of this golf course, which is rare to feel like you scored better than you played,'' Spieth said.

Also at 65 was Rickie Flower, who showed a streaky side. Fowler birdied the first hole. He bogeyed the second hole. He followed with nine straight pars. And then he ran off six straight birdies, capped by a 65-foot pitch from short of the 17th green.

Fowler had a chance to match a career best with seven straight birdies, but he chose not to take on the stream at the par-5 18th and laid up. He hit wedge to 12 feet and missed the birdie putts, with no regrets.

This was only Thursday, and he saw no need in ruining a big finish with a shot he would have had to hit flush.

''Come Sunday, if I'm in good position, that will be a go, and see what happens,'' he said.

Tony Finau, Keegan Bradley and Rafa Cabrera Bello also were at 65, while Phil Mickelson played bogey-free and opened with a 66.

The top 30 in the FedEx Cup after this week make it to the Tour Championship at East Lake for a mathematical shot at the $10 million bonus, with odds significantly higher depending on the position in the standings. The top five players - Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson already are assured that position - would only have to win at East Lake to claim golf's richest prize.

Thomas hit a tee shot into the water on the par-3 11th and made double bogey, though he still shot 67. Johnson had a three-hole stretch at 4 over early in his round and recovered for a 71.

For players like Mickelson, Finau and Bradley, they need to play well over the next three days to get into the top 30.

Mickelson found something a few weeks ago, whether it was medication or his diet as it relates to psoriatic arthritis, but it has given him great clarity of the shots he sees and more energy to keep his mind from drifting. He tied for sixth two weeks ago outside Boston and was sharp again at Conway Farms.

Lefty already is assured of competing in his 23rd consecutive team competition as a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup. Now he'd like to make it back to East Lake.

Scores

1 - Marc Leishman -23 F -4 62 64 68 67 261
T2 2 Justin Rose -18 F -6 67 68 66 65 266
T2 - Rickie Fowler -18 F -4 65 64 70 67 266
4 2 Jason Day -16 F -2 64 65 70 69 268
T5 - Matt Kuchar -15 F -4 67 68 67 67 269
T5 - Jon Rahm -15 F -4 69 68 65 67 269
T7 27 Tony Finau -13 F -7 65 72 70 64 271
T7 20 Jordan Spieth -13 F -6 65 70 71 65 271
T9 18 Anirban Lahiri -12 F -5 67 71 68 66 272
T9 6 Webb Simpson -12 F -3 66 73 65 68 272
T9 4 Patrick Cantlay -12 F -1 67 65 70 70 272
T12 37 Brooks Koepka -11 F -8 71 70 69 63 273
T12 15 Kevin Chappell -11 F -4 69 67 70 67 273
T12 8 Francesco Molinari -11 F -3 68 65 72 68 273
T12 3 Sergio Garcia -11 F -2 68 68 68 69 273
T12 3 Pat Perez -11 F -2 70 67 67 69 273
T12 - Cameron Smith -11 F -1 66 68 69 70 273
T12 - Lucas Glover -11 F -1 68 70 65 70 273
T12 7 Chez Reavie -11 F E 68 67 67 71 273
T20 29 Zach Johnson -10 F -7 67 71 72 64 274
T20 14 Xander Schauffele -10 F -4 72 70 65 67 274
T20 - Luke List -10 F -2 68 70 67 69 274
T20 - Sean O'Hair -10 F -2 70 69 66 69 274
T20 5 Phil Mickelson -10 F -1 66 69 69 70 274
T20 15 Ryan Moore -10 F +1 69 66 67 72 274
T20 15 Scott Brown -10 F +1 69 66 67 72 274
T27 14 Charl Schwartzel -9 F -4 69 73 66 67 275
T27 - Gary Woodland -9 F -2 67 67 72 69 275
T27 - Bud Cauley -9 F -2 69 66 71 69 275
T27 7 Keegan Bradley -9 F -1 65 72 68 70 275
T27 15 Stewart Cink -9 F +1 67 66 70 72 275
T27 22 Charley Hoffman -9 F +2 64 71 67 73 275
T33 22 Dustin Johnson -8 F -7 71 72 69 64 276
T33 1 Paul Casey -8 F -2 69 67 71 69 276
T33 1 Bryson DeChambeau -8 F -2 68 70 69 69 276
T33 6 Rafa Cabrera Bello -8 F -1 65 71 70 70 276
T33 13 Jamie Lovemark -8 F E 64 70 71 71 276
T33 13 James Hahn -8 F E 68 68 69 71 276
T33 13 Daniel Berger -8 F E 68 68 69 71 276
T40 15 Adam Hadwin -7 F -6 71 71 70 65 277
T40 1 Ian Poulter -7 F -2 69 69 70 69 277
T40 1 Brian Harman -7 F -2 69 69 70 69 277
T40 6 Hudson Swafford -7 F -1 68 66 73 70 277
T44 11 Martin Laird -6 F -5 73 69 70 66 278
T44 17 Brendan Steele -6 F +1 68 66 72 72 278
T44 29 Mackenzie Hughes -6 F +3 67 68 69 74 278
T47 2 Hideki Matsuyama -5 F -2 72 68 70 69 279
T47 2 Kyle Stanley -5 F -1 70 68 71 70 279
T47 6 Justin Thomas -5 F E 67 70 71 71 279
T47 13 Russell Henley -5 F +1 66 71 70 72 279
T51 4 Grayson Murray -4 F -3 71 70 71 68 280
T51 17 Henrik Stenson -4 F +2 72 66 69 73 280
T53 15 Kevin Na -3 F -8 73 73 72 63 281
T53 1 Bill Haas -3 F -1 71 69 71 70 281
T53 1 Robert Streb -3 F -1 67 69 75 70 281
T53 8 Sung Kang -3 F +1 73 68 68 72 281
T53 8 Kevin Tway -3 F +1 73 70 66 72 281
T58 6 Si Woo Kim -2 F -4 72 71 72 67 282
T58 5 Emiliano Grillo -2 F -3 70 72 72 68 282
T58 3 Jason Dufner -2 F -1 74 66 72 70 282
T58 6 Rory McIlroy -2 F E 72 69 70 71 282
62 2 Billy Horschel -1 F -1 68 74 71 70 283
T63 3 Louis Oosthuizen E F -4 77 74 66 67 284
T63 3 Jhonattan Vegas E F E 71 68 74 71 284
65 1 Patrick Reed +1 F -1 72 72 71 70 285
66 21 Ollie Schniederjans +2 F +6 73 70 66 77 286
T67 1 Kevin Kisner +3 F -1 71 71 75 70 287
T67 7 Charles Howell III +3 F +3 68 76 69 74 287
69 - Wesley Bryan +4 F -2 76 71 72 69 288

 





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