Thomas takes over, Woods fades
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Justin Thomas pulled away from a crowd with five birdies in the middle of his round for a 3-under 67 and a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational as he goes after his third victory this season on the PGA Tour.
No one could keep pace with Thomas, least of all Tiger Woods.
Starting the third round Saturday five shots behind, Woods didn’t make a birdie until a 12-foot putt on the 12th hole, and he didn’t make another. He wound up with a 73, leaving him 11 shots back and ending his streak of 10 straight rounds at par or better dating to the U.S. Open.
“It was very similar to the first day,” Woods said. “Wasn’t very sharp that first day, but I made everything. So today was about the same, and I didn’t make anything.”
That wasn’t a problem for Thomas, whose six birdies included a chip-in from 30 feet behind the green on the par-3 12th.
He was at 14-under 196, three shots clear of Rory McIlroy (67) and Ian Poulter (70).
Thomas fell behind early with two bogeys in three holes, and a 10-foot par save in between from behind the fourth green kept him from falling further behind. Poulter set the pace early and had a three-shot lead at one point until he dropped his shot from the bunker on the par-3 seventh, and then had a mixed bag of birdies and bogeys that kept him from getting closer to the lead.
McIlroy played bogey-free and will find a familiar face waiting for him on the first tee Sunday. McIlroy and Thomas live in South Florida, practice at The Bear’s Club that Jack Nicklaus built and spent several days practicing last week.
“We’ve played a lot,” Thomas said, “but never in this situation.”
Jason Day, who threw away a chance to win the Bridgestone Invitational two years ago, had a 69 and was four shots behind. Marc Leishman, who played alongside Woods, shot 67 and joined Kyle Stanley (70) five shots behind.
The course started to get a little firmer. Poulter had a 62 on Thursday. Tommy Fleetwood shot 63 on Friday. The best anyone could do in the third round was a 65 by Rickie Fowler, which only got him within six shots.
BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Kenny Perry tied a tournament record with a 12-under 60 and has a five-shot lead after two rounds of the 3M Championship.
Looking to become just the second three-time winner of the event, Perry had two eagles and eight birdies at a wet TPC Twin Cities. His two-round score of 126 is a tournament record.
Paul Goydos shot 60 in the second round en route to winning last year’s event.
Perry, who won the event in 2014 and 2015, shot 30 on the front side, including holing out from 106 yards for eagle at the par-5 sixth. He birdied Nos. 12, 13, 16 and 17 on the back nine before an eagle at 18.