Justin Thomas has been no stranger to vaulting up leaderboards this season with low rounds when he needed them most. At the US Open, it was a moving-day 63 at Erin Hills that gave him the 54-hole lead, which he ultimately could not convert on. On Sunday at the US PGA Championship he posted a four-under 68, this time to win his first Major.
Overnight at the Dell Technologies Championship, Thomas produced one of those performances again, posting a bogey-free eight-under 63 at TPC Boston that has tied him for the lead with Australia’s Marc Leishman at 12-under 201.
Thomas, 24, owned the par 4s, making birdies on eight of them, including a 26-foot bomb he rolled in on the par-4 17th. He had 12 threes on his scorecard, setting a FedEx Cup record. The putter was not kind to him his first two rounds, when he made just 145 feet of putts total. He eclipsed that total on Sunday, rolling in 156 feet of putts en route to the low round of the tournament.
A win on Sunday would give Thomas his fifth of the season and put him in rare company with Jack Nicklaus (1963), Tiger Woods (1999 and 2000) and Jordan Spieth (2015) as the only players since 1960 to win five times, including a major, in one season before the age of 25.
Leishman, meanwhile, shot a bogey-free six-under 65 that featured three straight birdies of 32, 52 and 12 feet on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes. The reigning Arnold Palmer Invitational winner can continue his strong season with a victory this week. In 22 starts, he’s registered five top-10s, 13 top-25s and amassed more than $US3.5 million in earnings.
After opening the week with a one-over 72, Jordan Spieth has bounced back, playing his next 36 holes in 11-under, including his third-round five-under 66. He’s at 10-under 203, just two shots back.
Also at 10-under are Adam Hadwin and Grayson Murray. Murray, sitting at 70th in the FedEx Cup standings entering the week, is now projected at 35th and in position to advance to the third leg of the playoffs in his first attempt as a US PGA Tour rookie.
Hadwin, 29, is now projected at 10th, also in position to advance to the third leg for just the first time in his three seasons on the US Tour. He’s also sitting at 10th in the Presidents Cup standings, and could make the team for the first time.
Bouncing back after a second-round one-over 72 was Dustin Johnson, who carded a bogey-free five-under 66 that featured birdies on four of his last five holes. While the world No.1 won’t play in the final group again, he’s in the identical position he was in a week ago at the Northern Trust, three shots off the lead at nine-under 204. A victory at TPC Boston on Monday would be his fifth of the season and 17th of his US Tour career.
Jon Rahm struggled on Sunday, posting an even-par 71 with four birdies and four bogeys. He’s tied with Johnson at nine under.
Phil Mickelson is still hanging around at eight-under 205 thanks to a third-round two-under 69. That gives him three straight sub-70 rounds, something he hasn’t done since the FedEx St Jude Classic in June, where he finished in solo ninth. A top-10 finish this week would be just the second in his last 12 starts, and his fifth of the season.
Also at eight-under is Patrick Cantlay, who shot a second straight three-under 68 without dropping a shot. He’s put together an excellent season, with five top-25s, three top-10s and nearly $US1.5 million in earnings in just 10 starts.
Rickie Fowler, Pat Perez and Justin Rose are five behind at seven-under 206.
Stewart Cink and Branden Grace entered the week outside the top-70, but both sit at six-under 207 and are currently projected at 61st and 63rd, respectively.
Bubba Watson will need to go low on Sunday to extend his season. The two-time Masters champ is at three-over 216, currently projected 75th.