MEDINAH, ILLINOIS – A day after setting the course record and taking a one-stroke lead at the BMW Championship, Hideki Matsuyama fell 10 shots off the pace following an impressive 11-under-par 61 from American Justin Thomas in the third round on Saturday.
Thomas carded two eagles, eight birdies and a bogey on Medinah Country Club’s No. 3 course and bettered the 63 Matsuyama posted on Friday.
The 27-year-old Matsuyama dropped into a four-way tie for ninth at 11-under after shooting a 1-over 73.
“Nothing worked out well,” said Matsuyama, who canceled out two birdies with three bogeys.
“The feeling of my putting was completely different from the previous day. Winning the championship seems a bit tough, but I think I have a chance at second place.”
Matsuyama, currently 33rd in the FedEx Cup standings, needs to finish inside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup points in order to advance to next week’s season-ending Tour Championship.
Thomas carded an eagle on No. 10, holed out from 180 yards with an 8-iron on No. 16 and made eight birdies to turn 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 going to happen,” Thomas said. “We’ve all been talking the last couple of weeks that I’m due to have one, and it’s nice when it happens.”
Just like that, he was already thinking about Sunday.
Thomas is six shots clear of 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 going into the Tour Championship at East Lake.
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.
The goal for Tiger Woods is simply to get to the Tour Championship, where last year he ended five-year drought with a victory. Woods had a bogey-free 67, his lowest score since the final round of the Memorial.
When Medinah is this much of a pushover, it didn’t help all that much. He was tied for 31st, with about 18 players ahead of where he needs to be to move into the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings.
“I shoot 60, it should be all right,” Woods said, a tongue-in-cheek comment made about the time Thomas was teeing off.