Planet Golf — 30 August 2017 by GW staff and news services
Eight birdies propel Thomas into lead

NORTON, Mass. — 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 Labor 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.

“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 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.

The third day of the tournament didn’t go so well for Masters champion Sergio Garcia

He didn’t quite go full “Tin Cup”, but he was left to improvise on the fly. It all started on the reachable par-4 fourth hole. Garcia hit a tee shot to the front fringe, 25 feet from the hole, but his eagle attempt caught a slope and took a right-hand turn, ending up 13 feet away. He then slammed his putter in anger against a sprinkler head, bending it and rendering it unusable for the remainder of the round.

According to Rule 4-4b: “If during a stipulated round, a player’s club is damaged other than in the normal course of play rendering it non-conforming or changing its playing characteristics, the club must not subsequently be used or replaced during the round.”

No matter — at least not initially.

Garcia holed that ensuing 13-foot birdie attempt with his 3-wood. By the time he’d reached the ninth hole, though, he was putting with his driver, an effort that led to him lipping out a 15-inch par attempt on that hole.

On the 17th hole, he sank an 8-footer with yet another club, his 3-iron, en route to posting a 4-over 75 for the day.

Following the round, Garcia declined to comment.

For the day, he needed 33 total putts, compared with 26 and 29 in the first two rounds, respectively. He made just 16 of his 21 attempts inside of 10 feet on Sunday, and failed to make any of his eight putts from outside of 15 feet.



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