Marc Leishman left his golf clubs in his garage during his week break from the FedEx Cup playoff and it didn’t change anything. He made 10 birdies in the opening round of the BMW Championship for a 9-under-par 62 to build a two-shot lead.
Jason Day made the biggest change of his career and had a 64, his best start in 16 months.
The race to the FedEx Cup finale got off to a blistering start Thursday at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill., and no one could top Leishman. The Australian finished third at the TPC Boston two weeks ago, did nothing last week except practice putting in the room above his garage, and then ran off seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch in the middle of his round and matched his best score on the PGA Tour.
‘‘When you play golf and all you’re thinking about his making birdies, it’s a lot easier than trying to not make bogeys,’’ Leishman said.
Day made five birdies on the back nine to atone for a sluggish start in a tournament where his expectations were up in the air. He decided last week that Colin Swatton, the most meaningful figure in his golf career, would no longer caddie for at least the rest of the year. Day instead used an old roommate from his school days in Australia, Luke Reardon. If that wasn’t enough, he also changed putters.
That might not have been nearly as significant as the good vibes from a six-shot victory at Conway Farms two years ago. Whatever the case, he had no complaints about his lowest score since a 63 in the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, and his best opening round since a 63 at The Players Championship a year ago, which was the last tournament he won.
‘‘A good step in the right direction, especially with having Luke on the bag,’’ Day said. ‘‘Obviously, not having Colin on the bag is something different and I just didn’t know how I was going to play. I think Luke did a fantastic job out there.’’
Charley Hoffman, picked for the Presidents Cup a week ago, birdied his last two holes for a 64. Jamie Lovemark also had a 64 with a little more style, drilling a fairway metal over the creek to 8 feet for eagle on the par-5 18th.
Jordan Spieth, a runner-up in the last two FedEx Cup playoff events to take over the No. 1 spot in the standings, turned a wild tee shot into a birdie on the opening hole, added a 30-foot birdie from off the green at No. 5, and settled down the rest of the way for a 65.
LPGA — Rain and strong winds forced first-round play to be scrapped at the final women’s golf major of the season, which will start afresh on Friday as a 54-hole event in Evian-les-Bains, France. LPGA Tour commissioner Michael Whan said what little play was achieved Thursday morning at the Evian Championship was wiped from the record.
The leaderboard had been headed by So Yeon Ryu of South Korea and Jessica Korda of the United States at 2 under. Ryu finished five holes while Korda had gone through eight.
European — Bernd Wiesberger and Richard Finch shot 5-under 66s to share the clubhouse lead after a rain-shortened opening round at the KLM Open in Spijk, Netherlands.