The 2013 winner at TPC Southwind, English had a two-stroke lead over Jim Herman, Carlos Ortiz, Ian Poulter and Matthew Wolff on Thursday.

Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler and Leishman were a further stroke back at 65.

Inspired by an emotional family reunion, Leishman rebounded from disappointing Olympic Games performance to find form again.

Starting on the back nine, and with his parents watching on after being granted a special exemption from the Australian government to travel to the US, Leishman made bogey on the 13th hole before an eagle on the par-five 16th got him going.

He also had birdies on 14 and 15 to turn in 32, with further birdies coming on the second and eighth holes to solidify his tied-sixth position.

Until a tearful meeting at the Memphis airport on Monday night, Leishman hadn't seen his parents Paul and Pelita for 18 months because of the pandemic.

"Dad's one of my best mates. So not seeing him and my mum for a year and a half was really tough. Also, I was playing terribly last year, so that didn't help, either," Leishman told

"It was really tough; it's been really tough for a lot of people.

"We had to write letters to the Australian government for them to be allowed out of the country. We all wrote letters. I wrote one, mum and dad wrote one, different people from different fields write them. We had the PGA Tour write one.

RIGHT: Leishman and co are chasing American Harris English who compiled a brilliatn 62 on Thrusday. PHOTO: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.

"There were letters coming from everybody. We had a pretty good case.

"The government were very good and got back to us quickly, gave them the go-ahead."

Countryman Cameron Smith, who narrowly missed out on the bronze medal playoff in Tokyo, is two shots behind Leishman.

He is joined by compatriots Brad Kennedy and Min Woo Lee, who are a shot ahead of Cam Davis (two under).

The 32-year-old English birdied the first four holes, making a 27-foot putt on the par-4 second and adding birdies on numbers 6, 7 and 9 to match the course front-nine mark of seven-under 28. It was also English's career-low for nine holes.

DeChambeau, who missed the Olympics because of COVID, expressed to the media on Wednesday he didn't expect to be much of a factor this week. That sentiment changed on Thursday.

"I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend," he said. "I feel like I can be there to win on Sunday."

Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and defending St Jude Invitational champion Justin Thomas shot 67s. Second-ranked Dustin Johnson and Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele were at 69.