Thomas on brink of Sony Open win

American Kevin Kisner at the par-five ninth during the third round of the Sony Open In Hawaii. He came close to recording an eagle on his final hole but had to settle for birdie and a 60.
American Kevin Kisner at the par-five ninth during the third round of the Sony Open In Hawaii. He came close to recording an eagle on his final hole but had to settle for birdie and a 60.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He has 7-stroke edge going into final round - no PGA Tour player has blown such a lead

LOS ANGELES • Justin Thomas is doing just about everything right at the Sony Open as he fired a bogey-free five-under 65 in the third round on Saturday to extend his lead to seven strokes.

A day after setting the USPGA Tour's 36-hole scoring record, he continued to roll at the Waialae Country Club course in Honolulu.

He reached 22-under 188 to equal the lowest 54-hole total in PGA history, set by Steve Stricker in the first three rounds of the 2010 John Deere Classic on the par-71 TPC Deere Run course.

"I felt like I managed my day really well to shoot five under," Thomas said. "I was really happy to be bogey free. That was a big goal of mine. I had a couple of saves, I was putting the ball in position off the tee."

Combine his first bogey-free round of the tournament with a rare 59 on Thursday and a 64 on Friday and it adds up to a seemingly insurmountable seven-shot lead over fellow American Zach Johnson.

No player in history of the PGA Tour ever lost a seven-shot lead on the final day.

"When guys get on those streaks and you have talent like that and confidence, it is impressive," Johnson (65) said of Thomas.

Hudson Swafford and England's Justin Rose each posted a 66 to tie for third place at 196 with American Gary Woodland (68).

American Kevin Kisner completed the second-best round of the tournament, a 60, to jump from 13th to joint-sixth at 197.

He watched as his attempt from 10 feet slid past the right edge of the cup at the par-five ninth and he then tapped in for a birdie to card a career-best effort on the PGA Tour.

"I hit two great shots (on the ninth hole) and had a great look at it," he told Golf Channel about his bid to become only the eighth player to break 60 on the US circuit.

"Just a little bit of a misread, I guess. I hit a good putt, I looked up and I thought it was going dead middle but it didn't break."

Kisner, who made the halfway cut right on the number , added: "I'm just excited to play well. The first two days were a struggle and to have a spot in the weekend... and then I got it rolling and I could feel it coming.

"It was just fun to have that opportunity. I was enjoying it out there."

Thomas is off to one of the most impressive starts in PGA Tour history. A victory would give him three wins in his last four starts and make him the first golfer since Ernie Els in 2003 to win the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open back-to-back.

"I have to get a good night's rest and come out here and do it again," he said.

Former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth is at 198 after a 66. Despite being alone in ninth, the Texan is 10 shots adrift of Thomas.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

SONY OPEN

Day 4: StarHub Ch204, 8am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2017, with the headline 'Thomas on brink of Sony Open win'. Print Edition | Subscribe