Marc Leishman leads as Rory McIlroy slips off pace — BMW Championship

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Rory McIlroy, requiring a top-five finish to have any chance of progressing to the season-ending Tour Championship, sits tied-50th following a two-under 69.

"Actually quite a lot that day, probably three, four holes which is not normal for me".

"At the start of the year, I felt like I was kind of fighting an uphill battle with myself, trying to force things too much", he said.

The BMW Championship brings back memories for Leishman, who was paired with golf icon and 14-time major victor Tiger Woods at the tournament in 2009 and it something he remembers fondly as he looks to add a third PGA Tour title to his name.

Leishman can not, however, boast the best halfway score ever at Conway Farms, an honour that belongs to Day, who plundered the layout two years ago on his way to a victory that vaulted him to number one in the world.

"Confidence is high and hopefully I can just ride the wave", Leishman told reporters. Even after the hole-in-one, I wasn't even amped.

Vettel beats Red Bulls to pole, Hamilton fifth
Red Bull , however, is restrained by an underperforming Renault engine, whereas Ferrari's power unit is nearly on par with Mercedes' .

But Day need only look back to previous year for a source of inspiration, as Rory McIlroy flipped a mediocre season on its head with a pair of postseason wins that netted the FedExCup title. "Hoping I can continue to make birdies, give them something to cheer about and come back next year as a crowd favourite". With a 70-man field, this is the first playoff event without a cut.

Sixteen months removed from his most recent worldwide win at the 2016 Players Championship, Day appreciates how much a single victory can alter the perception of an entire season.

Former world number one Day sacked his caddy Colin Swanton earlier in the week, though Swanton remains on as his coach, and has seen an immediate upswing in performance with stand-in Luke Reardon on his bag. I mean, it's not weighing heavy on my mind. "I know that I can do it".

He is 51st in the FedEx Cup standings and needs to be in the top 30 to reach next week's Tour Championship, where the victor gets a $10m bonus.

"Priorities change as the years go on", Day said.

Leishman edged back ahead of the clubhouse leaders with a 15-footer at the 13th and back-to-back birdies at the 15th, before cancelling out a bogey at the 17th with a two-putt gain at the last.

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