Winless over the last 12 months, Justin Thomas knew he was playing well and he was due for a low round.
Saturday at the BMW Championship was more than he might have imagined.
Thomas broke the course record at Medinah, Ill., by four shots with an 11-under-par 61 that gave him a six-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau.
He opened with five birdies, and none was worthy of a highlight reel because of what followed. He hit a 5-wood from 260 yards on the par-5 10th that was so pure he twirled his club and watched it roll out to 2 feet.
That wasn’t among the top three memories Saturday.
“I’m very lucky that I had a couple to choose from today,” Thomas said.
In fluffy grass behind the 14th green, he chipped in for birdie. From 180 yards in the 16th fairway, he holed out for eagle.
His felt his best shot was the next hole, a 9-iron from forward tees to a front pin over the water to 6 feet for his eighth birdie of a remarkable round.
Photo: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press
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“It was easy to get pretty wrapped up in the emotions and get the adrenaline going and I had to take a little bit off that 9-iron,” Thomas said. “If I’m trying to be perfect there and I don’t hit it right, that very easily could go in the water.”
Thomas was at 21-under 195, with Finau (68) and Cantlay (67) chasing him. He has a clear path to his first victory since the Bridgestone Invitational last August, along with the lead going into the Tour Championship next week and the chase for a $15 million prize.
Only seven players in PGA Tour history have lost a six-shot lead in the final round, most recently Dustin Johnson at the 2017 HSBC Champions.
European Tour: Thomas Pieters birdied the final hole to close a round of 6-under 66 that gave him a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Czech Masters in Vysoky Ujezd. Pieters was at 16-under 200.
Adria Arnaus had a bogey-free round of 7-under 65 with seven birdies to move into second place.
Overnight leader Edoardo Molinari dropped his first shot on the 14th to finish at 2-under 70 and share third with Rikard Karlberg (66)m Robert Karlsson (67) and Hugo Leon (67). They were two strokes behind Pieters.
U.S. Amateur: Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein won 3 and 2 and Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree prevailed 3 and 1 in the semifinals to advance in Pinehurst, N.C.
They will meet Sunday in a 36-hole final.
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