Dell Technologies Championship: Justin Thomas fires 63 to grab share of lead at TPC Boston

By
Bill Doyle
The Telegram & Gazette

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Monday, September 04, 2017 | 10:08 a.m.

NORTON, Mass. — Justin Thomas didn't birdie any of the par 3s or par 5s at a soggy TPC Boston on Sunday, but he dominated the par 4s.

Thomas birdied eight of the 11 par 4s to shoot an 8-under 63 and grab a share of the lead with Marc Leishman at the Dell Technologies Championship.

The 12 3s on his scorecard -- four of them coming on par 3s -- set a FedEx Cup Playoffs record.

"It's crazy to think I did that," Thomas said, "and parred all the par 5s. Played them even par. That's a little bit of a bummer, if I could have somehow had a downside to the day. But I'm obviously extremely pleased and put myself in great position to win the tournament."

Thomas rolled in 156 feet of putts, 11 more feet than he totaled in the first two rounds. On the 12th hole that he's criticized for its redesign, he rolled in a 49-footer. On 14, he sank a 26-footer and on 17 he drained a 26 1/2 -footer.

"They were all uphill putts," he said, "and I just could see the line. I mean, I had good looks."

Thomas got a good read on 12 from Branden Grace's putt just before him. The longest of his first five birdie putts was a 13 1/2 -footer on six.

Thomas has made only one bogey at TPC Boston, a three-putt in the first round on the par-4 fifth, a hole he hasn't birdied this week.

Thomas was proud of the way he managed to tie for sixth last week in the first round of the playoffs at The Northern Trust even though he wasn't on top of his game. He also admitted that he didn't have his A game during the first two rounds this week, but he certainly put it all together on Sunday, especially with his putter.

"I didn't really have a great warm up session or anything this morning," the 24-year-old Kentuckian admitted.

Thomas said he followed the advice his coach at Alabama, Jay Seawell, used to give him -- to play more by feel rather than worry about the mechanics of his golf swing.

"Play golf, not golf swing," he said. "I think that's what I did today."

Thomas is looking for his fifth victory this season, which would break a tie with Dustin Johnson for most on the PGA Tour this season. Thomas has held five other 54-hole leads on the PGA Tour and went on to win three times. He tied for fifth and tied for seventh the other two.

Thomas has improved his score by four strokes each day, from a 71 to a 67 to a 63. If he does it again, he'd shoot a 59, but he probably doesn't need to do that to win.

The top three players in the FedEx Cup Playoffs standings all have a chance to win on Monday. Thomas is third in FedEx Cup points. Jordan Spieth, second in FedEx Cup points, is tied for fourth, two shots back, after carding a 5-under 66. Johnson, who sits atop the FedEx Cup standings, is tied for seventh with second-round leader Jon Rahm, three shots off the lead, after shooting a 66. The better players know how to win the bigger events.

"I think just a little more sense of calm," Spieth said, "with certain players that allows them to free up."

Paul Casey, who led after the third round here last year before shooting a final-round 73 to finish second behind Rory McIlroy, is alone in third after shooting a 67 on Sunday.

The 5-foot-10 Thomas is only 160 pounds soaking wet and it was wet at TPC Boston on Sunday. A light rain fell for much of the day.

"I think we had two downpours and two breaks," Spieth said. "So that's rare. We typically see -- we've been playing in a lot of rain for nine holes and then nothing, or they call us off for (lightning)."

Leishman also rolled in a couple of long birdie putts, one of 32 feet, 7 inches on 13 and another of 52 feet, 4 inches on 14. Then he drained a 12-footer on 15 for his third consecutive birdie. The 33-year-old Australian has bounced back nicely after missing the cut last week.

Leishman admits he watches the scoreboard so he knew that Thomas had finished earlier with a 63.

"You look at that as motivation," he said, "not as a deterrent."

Leishman earned his second PGA Tour victory in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Johnson birdied four of his last five holes.

"I just wanted to get myself in a position," Johnson said, "where I'm at least in range of the leaders."

This article is written by Bill Doyle from Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, Mass. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.