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Leishman (66) rides red-hot putter to keep lead

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DALLAS – Marc Leishman isn’t exactly known for his prowess on the greens, but it’s been a red-hot putter that has keyed him to a lead at the halfway point of the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Leishman torched Trinity Forest Golf Club during the opening round, shooting a 10-under 61 to take a three-shot advantage, and he picked up right where he left off with a second-round 66 to head to the weekend at 15 under, two clear of the field.

The Aussie entered this week ranked No. 125 on Tour in strokes gained: putting, but he’s now leading the field in the category after a morning that included more than 153 feet of made putts, highlighted by a 55-foot bomb for birdie on No. 12.

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“My speed has been really great. Last week at The Players I hit a lot of really good putts that lipped out, and this week they’re going in,” Leishman said. “Some weeks you read them really well, and some weeks you’re not sure if a 10-footer is slightly uphill or downhill, and that affects your speed and line and everything.”

Leishman won twice last season, and he’s poised to add another trophy to his growing collection having dropped only one shot through the first 36 holes. The key stretch of his second round came on Nos. 1-5, which he played in 4 under to maintain his pole position despite a 62 from Brian Gay that moved the veteran to 13 under.

Leishman had one of the best track records at the tournament’s former host, TPC Las Colinas, but he feels plenty comfortable on a new and challenging layout despite a T-63 finish last week on the Stadium Course.

“Coming here, I was confident,” Leishman said. “When you come off a week like that where you played well and got nothing out of it, I was expecting to play well but I wasn’t expecting this, I wouldn’t say. So it’s nice to get off to such a good start and put myself in a good spot for the last two days.”