Fowler and Day likely to assert themselves over weekend
Lively Leishman the halfway pacesetter
Ante-post 45-1 chance, Marc Leishman, leads by three shots at the halfway stage of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms, Illinois.
Leishman opened up with a 62 and followed that stellar effort with a 64 to reach 16 under par going into the weekend. The 33-year-old Australian, twice a US Tour champion, is 19-10 with Betfred with 36 holes to play.
Two top-class operators are on the tail of the leader – Rickie Fowler and Jason Day. The dynamic duo are tied for second place, with Fowler shortening from 14-1 to 16-5, and Day slashed from 18-1 to 100-30.
The pre-tournament betting was dominated by the three FedEx Cup leaders – Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson – but all three have much catching up to do if they are to contend for the BMW title.
Spieth failed to sparkle in a second-round 70 which left him nine shots off the pace, while Thomas is 11 behind Leishman. Johnson has appeared to be badly struggling for focus, perhaps already looking forward to next week's all-important Tour Championship, and the world number shares 61st place in the 70-runner event. He is 17 shots adrift and 750-1 for a miraculous comeback.
The 16-5 Fowler and 100-30 Day are the most attractive outright prices. Both will benefit enormously in the FedEx Cup standings from becoming BMW champion and should relish the task of hunting down a leader who can struggle mentally in elite competition. Leishman is good, but not top-class. Fowler and Day are very much the latter. And all three men are well aware of these facts.
Fowler and Day are both course-proven, particularly Day, who triumphed by six shots the last time Conway Farms staged an event, and they are swinging superbly. Expect them to close the gap on Leishman in round three, then edge a three-way battle for the title on Sunday. Spieth and Patrick Cantlay seem the most likely chasers to force their way into the thick of things, but Fowler, Day and Leishman are the principal contenders.
Third-round twoball punters are pointed towards Cameron Smith in the 6pm match. Smith is a 24-year-old with great potential, while his opponent, 26-year-old Mackenzie Hughes, appears more brittle. The 2016 RSM Classic title may end up as the only US Tour success for Hughes, who is generally wayward from tee to green. Bookmakers disagree over who should be favourite for this twoball. Those with Smith as jolly are probably right.
1pt 11-10 general