MEDINAH, Ill. – Justin Thomas opened with five straight birds, added a pair of eagles and broke the track record on soft, vulnerable Medinah with an 11-bottom. -par 61 on Saturday, taking a lead of six shots in the final round of the BMW championship.
Thomas hit a 5-foot to 2 foot for a No. 10 eagle, hollowed out from 180 meters with an 8-iron at number 16 and made eight birdies, turning a tight race into a one-man show.
"I felt good about my game for a while, and you don't know when something like this is going to happen," said Thomas. "We've all spoken in the past few weeks that I need one, and it's fun when it happens. "
And he just thought about Sunday.
Thomas was at 21-under 195, six shots for Tony Finau (68) and Patrick Cantlay (67) He has a clear path to his first victory in a year, and it would give him the FedEx Cup lead that will enter the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta next weekend.
The goal for Tiger Woods is just to go to the Tour Championship, where he finished five years last year without winning.Woods had a bogey-free 67 on Saturday, his lowest score since the last round of the Memorial.
It didn't help Medinah so & # 39; n was a pushover Woods was tied for the 31st, with 18 players for where he must have been in the top 30 to come from the FedEx Cup and continue to East Lake.
"I shoot 60, it should be good," Woods said, tongue in cheek, around the time Thomas was turning off.
Thomas had two 12-foot birdie putts, hit up to 2 feet on No. 3, hit a 15-foot on No. 4 and was out of position only shortly before a fifth straight birdie on par-5 fifth. But it was the back nine where he took control.
First he drilled a 5-timber that rolled to 2 feet under the cup. Usually that was perhaps his best photo of the day. For this round it did not belong to the top three. He broke in for a birdie of a downy lie behind the 14th green. Also relatively modest was his pitch to the 15th to save par after being driven into the water.
And then the fireworks on a cloudy, gloomy afternoon with a rain delay of just over an hour.
From 180 meters, he cut an 8-iron that looked like it would go completely, landed briefly from the hole and rolled in. Thomas smiled and named "Brooks Koepka & # 39; s money" to his caddy, Jimmy Johnson, referring to a bet that Thomas has with Koepka on shots from over 50 yards ($ 1,000) and a hole-in-one ($ 5,000) ). That brought Thomas up with $ 7,000.
With high adrenaline, he hit a 9-iron of a front T-piece and a front pin across the water to 6 feet for his last bird.
Finau ran from the fourth fairway for an eagle. Cantlay had five birds.
Low scores were everywhere. Medinah never looked more vulnerable.
"It doesn't matter which golf course it is," said Thomas. “You give us soft, good greens and soft fairways, we are going to tear it apart. It's just how it is. "
All players, except two, in the 69-man field – Harold Varner III and Cameron Champ – were on equal footing or better.
In five majors held in Medinah, the lowest score was a 65. That was matched twice by Thomas and Jason Kokrak on Thursday, and Hideki Matsuyama set the standard on Friday with a 63. Thomas beat that with two.
"I hope the trend will not continue unless it is me Thomas said with a grin.
Thomas has not won since the Bridgestone Invitational last year at Firestone, and he was not ready to call it over. He did not think about next week and the $ 15 prize million, or not even to make sure he starts his season on Maui with the rest of the PGA Tour winners.
He is six, he wants to make it seven.
Only seven players in the PGA Tour history have lost a lead of six shots in the final round, most recently Dustin Johnson at the HSBC Champions 2017.
For others there is a lot at stake.
Rory Sabbatini shot a 30 in the back nine – four birds over his last five holes – and was alone in the fourth. That would be enough to get him in the Tour Championship for the first time since 2007, the first year of the FedEx Cup.
Finau could win a place on the Presidential Cup team if he wanted to maintain his position, even better if he finished second alone. Lucas Glover was nine shots behind, but is still expected to be in the top 30.
The benefits of the Tour Championship include a chase for a grand prize of $ 15 million along with a spot in all majors next year .