Marc Leishman definitely flies under the radar. He notes he has been out to dinner with fellow players like Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott and nobody really recognizes the big Australian.
Now there are advantages to having some degree of anonymity, he says. However, at the same time, he knows he works in a business in which recognition equates with a high level of success.
That means, he says, "I need to start lifting more trophies."
Leishman is in ideal position to hoist the J.K. Wadley Trophy at the BMW Championship. At 19-under, he will go into Sunday's final round at Conway Farms with a commanding five-shot lead over Day and Fowler.
After opening with 62 and 64, a steady if not spectacular round of 68 seemed almost pedestrian for Leishman. His three-round total of 194 was only one stroke off the mark Day set at Conway Farms en route to his BMW title in 2015.
Conditions were a bit tougher Saturday with a decent breeze and harder greens and pins. Leishman, though, was able to pick up two shots on Day and Fowler, who each shot 70.
"The 62 was obviously pretty nice, but today was almost as satisfying going into a Saturday with a lead to play the way I did," Leishman said.
Leishman, 33, is seeking his third PGA Tour title and second in 2017; he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. He is recognized among his peers and hardcore golf fans as a solid player who occasionally pops up on the leaderboard in big events. He reached a playoff in the 2015 British Open, losing to Zach Johnson.
During NBC's telecast Saturday, Jim Mackay, Phil Mickelson's former caddie who now works as an analyst, called Leishman, "the most underrated player in golf."
Leishman is looking to shed that designation and take his game to the next level. A BMW victory would move him to fourth on the FedEx Cup points list going into next week's Tour Championship. It also would offer him a measure of redemption after failing to close the deal in the previous playoff event.
Leishman held a two-shot lead over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth going into the back nine of the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston. However, he imploded down the stretch, dropping to sixth.
The memory still is fresh.
"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 one probably took a day. It stung a bit. ... I felt like I hit decent shots, just didn't play well enough. Made good decisions, didn't execute. Tomorrow, I need to execute."
A five-shot lead does give Leishman some margin for error. If Day or Fowler intend on catching Leishman, it likely will require a super-low round. Neither of the big names could muster any momentum Saturday. After opening with a ground-shaking eagle on the par-4 first hole, Fowler mustered only one birdie for the remainder of the round.
"Leish is playing spectacular," Day said. "I got to come out and play really good golf because he's not making any mistakes."
For his part, Leishman says he can't play defensively. Otherwise, he knows his big lead can evaporate quickly.
"I don't want to be out there trying not to make bogeys," Leishman said. "I want to be out there trying to make birdies. That's more conducive to good golf."
This article is written by Ed Sherman from Chicago Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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