ATLANTA • Justin Thomas took a step towards winning the FedExCup and its US$10 million (S$13.5 million) bonus when he shared the second-round lead at the Tour Championship on Friday.
The powerful American eagled the par-five 18th hole after hoisting a five iron to five feet for a four-under 66 on another benign day at East Lake in Atlanta.
He warned the best was yet to come. "I've hit a lot of good putts which have just caught the edge. Hopefully the putter can heat up and we can have some fun this weekend," he told Golf Channel after joining fellow American Webb Simpson and Englishman Paul Casey at seven-under 133.
Jordan Spieth struggled with his long game and only a sublime touch around and on the greens allowed him to limit the damage to a 70 that left him four shots behind on 137.
The world No. 2 leads the season-long FedExCup standings, ahead of second-placed Thomas.
A victory by either today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) would clinch the season-long FedExCup and the huge windfall.
PGA Championship winner Thomas, 24, played with precision but until the final hole had not extracted full value from his round.
WHAT A BLAST!
I absolutely crushed it. It was about as much as I can get out of a five iron.
JUSTIN THOMAS, on his 235-yard approach shot to within five feet of the final hole, where his eagle gave him a four-under 66 and 133 total.
However, one brilliant swing from 235 yards changed that.
A five-time winner this season, he hit his approach shot on the 590-yard No. 18 to within six feet of the cup and made the putt for eagle.
"I absolutely crushed it. It was about as much as I can get out of a five iron," he said, before adding that he was trying to keep thoughts of the FedExCup out of his mind.
"All I'm trying to do is just pick apart the golf course and pick my spots and just hit the fairways.
"If I drive the ball like I did yesterday and some of the holes today, you can really make some birdies out here. I really haven't made (many putts)."
Simpson and Casey both shot 67, with a double bogey at the 13th hole after a poor drive taking the wind out of Simpson's sails.
However, things could have been worse for the 2012 US Open champion, whose drive at the previous hole landed on the top of the out-of-bounds fence and took a fortuitous ricochet back into play, from where he made par.
A group of four, including American Patrick Reed, whose 65 was the day's best score, trail by a shot.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson carded a 69, and is tied with Spieth.
"I felt like I hit it good, had a lot of opportunities, didn't make any putts," Johnson said.
First-round leader Kyle Stanley set the tone for a frustrating day by lipping out a par putt at the first hole en route to a 73 that left him four shots behind.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Day 4: StarHub Ch204, 11.55pm