PGA champion Justin Thomas ran off eight birdies on a long, wet TPC Boston for a tournament-best 63, giving him a share of the lead with Marc Leishman going into a Labour Day finish in the Dell Technologies filled with the game’s best players.
The FedEx Cup playoff event in Boston has a history of delivering big moments, and this was set up for another.
Leishman, who won at Bay Hill this year, also played bogey-free for a 65 on Sunday to join Thomas at 12-under 201.
Eight players were separated by three shots going into the final round, a listed that included Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey and Jon Rahm. Still very much in the mix was Phil Mickelson, only four shots behind.
Canada’s Adam Hadwin is two shots back after a 3-under 68. The Abbotsford, B.C., native, who started the day in a tie for second, is 10 under for the tournament.
Mackenzie Hughes (71) of Dundas, Ont., is 4 under while Nick Taylor (70), also of Abbotsford, is 1 over. Graham DeLaet (80) of Weyburn, Sask., is 8 over.
“There is a heightened something to these playoff events that bring out certain champions for the most part,” Spieth said Sunday after finishing with two straight birdies to nudge closer to the lead, just two shots behind. “It’s going to be a throw-down tomorrow.”
Thomas surges in front
Thomas had his third round this season at 63 or better — a list that includes his 59 at the Sony Open and a 63 at the U.S. Open — to turn a five-shot deficit into a share of the lead and a chance to win for the fifth time this year.
He birdied six of the first 10 holes, the longest at about 12 feet. He played down the 13th fairway on the redesigned 12th hole for the third time this week and holed a 50-foot birdie putt, and then added a pair of 25-foot birdie putts.
And he didn’t even birdie any of the par 5s.
“I just felt I had total control of my game,” Thomas said. “But it’s crazy to think I did that and parred all the par 5s. That’s a little bit of a bummer, if I could somehow have a downside to the day. But like I said, I’m extremely pleased and put myself in a great position to win the tournament.”
And he has plenty of company.
Casey played in the final group at the TPC Boston last year, but Rory McIlroy ran him down with a 65 to overcome a six-shot deficit. Casey also played the three par 5s without a birdie, missing a 12-footer on the final hole that would have given him a share of the lead.
Then again, the TPC Boston played longer than ever…