Day takes a baby step with a big round at BMW Championship

Leishman, who goes into the weekend with a three-shot lead over Day and Fowler, told the PGA website: 'The game's feeling really good.

Sitting at 56th in the FedEx Cup standings, the 24-year-old Brisbane native needs a solo fourth-placed finish at Chicago's Conway Farms to progress to the 30-man Tour Championship finale in Atlanta next week. It's very easy to have bogeys out there.

After opening with 62 and 64, a steady if not spectacular round of 68 seemed nearly pedestrian for Leishman.

It was a big day for more than just the 29-year-old Australian on Friday. The top five in the FedExCup Playoff standings is the goal for players after the BMW Championship.

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Rory McIlroy knows that after his second round at the BMW Championship his slim chances of advancing to East Lake to defend his FedExCup title are as good as over.

After a rocky 16 months without a victory, compounded by back problems and motivational issues, Day, 29, decided to make the switch and put one of his old buddies on the bag with just two events to play in the PGA Tour season. Jamie Lovemark and Charley Hoffman also opened at 64.

On the seventh hole, Leishman chipped in beautifully before rolling the ball in on the long green for a birdie, before repeating the trick, putting in from beyond the fringe on the eighth.

Five-time major victor Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who both came into the tournament in the 30s in the standings, were in a group tied for 15th, 10 shots off the lead and fighting to make it into the Tour Championship field.

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The Australian drained a 20-footer at the 11th and picked up another shot at the next, with back-to-back birdies from the 14th helping him set the clubhouse target.

"Generally, I say to my wife if I have a bad round, 'Just give me 10 minutes and I'll be all right", Leishman said. "That's a good formula for success, and it's going to be tough tomorrow".

He had previously made three straight birdies at holes 8-10 and got back on the birdie train with a tap in birdie at the par-four 12th.

After opening with a 65, Spieth fell nine strokes off the pace following his one-over-par 70 at the third and penultimate play-off event.

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  • Kelly Blake