By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- Marc Leishman knew Saturday was going to be a good one when he left himself birdie putts inside 5 feet on his first three holes.
The young Aussie converted all three, then got up and down for birdie at the par-5 fifth hole and staked a knock-down 6-iron to 4 feet for another at No. 8. Leishman turned in 32 on the way to a 66 that landed him squarely in the hunt for his first PGA TOUR victory.
When Leishman finished, he had climbed 41 spots up the leaderboard to 6 under. And given a weather forecast that was expected to worsen as the day progressed, he was particularly glad to get it in the house.
"Obviously I'd rather be off at 1 o'clock but it's good to get out early," Leishman said. "Fresh greens and hopefully before the wind gets up, and try and get a good number on the board, which I was able to do."
Leishman, who said the course was playing "reasonably tough," finished strong, too. He hit an 8-iron to 6 feet at the 16th hole, then drained a 25-footer at the 17th.
"I managed to hit a few fairways and knocked it really close," Leishman said. "I had a lot of short birdie putts which always helps."
Leishman had two top-10 finishes in his first eight starts this year. He's cooled off since, missing four cuts in his next seven starts, but Leishman feels that changing balls from the Pro V1x to the Pro V1 this week may be paying dividends.
"I am actually hitting it a bit straighter," Leishman said. "It's compressing off the club face a bit more and not spraying off into the bushes as much, which is nice.
"Just a little bit of a change (helps sometimes). It was getting a bit stale."