McDowell and Conners four behind Australians Day and Leishman in Florida

Graeme McDowell and Corey Conners have their work cut out to win the €3.18million QBE Shootout after a second-round 67 left them four shots behind leaders Marc Leishman and Jason Day in Florida.

he Portrush native and the big-hitting Canadia opened with a 15-under 57 in Friday’s scramble to lie just a shot behind the Australians at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples.

But in yesterday’s modified foursomes — they chose the best of their tee shots and played alternately from there — they managed just three birdies before Conners knocked in a 40-footer for eagle at the 17th en route to a five-under 67 that saw them fall back from second to fifth on 20-under par.

Leishman and Day carded an eight-under 64 with the former holing out from 96 yards for his second eagle of the week at the seventh before Day rounded off a good day by knocking in a 25 footer at the 18th.

They lead by three shots on 24-under par from three teams — Billy Horschel and Sam Burns (62), defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English (66) and Kevin Na and Jason Kokrak (64) — heading into Sunday’s fourballs.

“We are going to have to shoot a really good round tomorrow to win,” Leishman said of their bid for €792,000 top prize (€396,000 each).

“The guys went crazy low today, and tomorrow is fourball, so we are going to have to go a lot lower than we went today and keep doing what we’re doing.”

Day has played second fiddle to Leishman so far but he’s hoping to make a bigger contribution in the final round fourballs.

“When you play in a fourball format, there’s a little bit of pressure off just because you have a teammate,” Day said.

“Tomorrow we’ve just got to focus. We’re still 18 holes away from lifting the trophy, so got to stay on top of it. I’ve got a lot of faith in Marc going out there tomorrow knowing that he’s going to keep it out in front of him and hit a lot of good quality shots and I’m going to try to do the same.”

LPGA star Lexi Thompson and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson are sixth, five shots off the pace after a 66.

“I think tomorrow you’re looking at 10 under,’ Watson said. “If you can somehow get to 10 under, that means great playing. By both of us not birdieing the same holes, that would be huge for us.

“Anything better than that would be amazing, 10 under would be amazing and that really should be our goal is try to get to double digits and see where that falls.

“Hopefully everybody else misses their putts and we keep sneaking up that leaderboard.”

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