Justin Thomas made a 15-foot birdie putt on his final hole to tie the 54-hole record on the PGA Tour and build a seven-shot lead Saturday at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
No one has ever lost a PGA Tour event with a seven-shot lead, and Thomas has given no indication that will change.
His goal was to not drop any shots on another calm day at Waialae, and he wound up stretching his lead as he goes for a sweep of Hawaii. That last birdie putt put Thomas at 22-under 188, tying the mark Steve Stricker set at the 2010 John Deere Classic.
Thomas got into the record book with an eagle on his final hole in each of the previous two rounds at Waialae — a 59 on Thursday for the eighth sub-60 round in tour history, and the 36-hole scoring record Friday.
He had another chance on the par-five 18th until his second shot clipped a palm frond and came up well short. He pitched to just inside 15 feet below the cup, and poured in the putt.
Zach Johnson shot a 65 to keep pace, though he remained seven shots behind.
Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose (66) and Gary Woodland (68) were eight shots behind, though the 23-year-old Thomas has turned this into a one-man show with one round remaining as he tries to join Ernie Els in 2003 as the only players to win both Hawaii events on the PGA Tour.
The course remained so vulnerable that Kevin Kisner nearly produced the second 59 of the week. Kisner made a 25-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole to reach nine under for his round. Needing an eagle to shoot 59, he drilled his tee shot on the fast fairways of Waialae, hit an eight-iron to within nine feet and thought he had made it. The putt stayed to the right and burned the edge of the cup, and Kisner had to settle for a 60.
It was the lowest round of his career — but only the second-lowest round this week.
“Can’t be that upset,” Kisner said.
He went from making the cut on the number to a tie for sixth, though hardly in contention. Kisner still was nine shots out of the lead.
Thomas had only a few stressful moments, such as the par-three seventh when his tee shot bounded down a steep still on the right into a fluffy lie. He hit a flop shot to about 12 feet and hit the putt so pure he started walking even before it dropped.
Thomas led by at least four shots the entire round. He made his first birdie with a two-putt on the par-five ninth, drove into a greenside bunker on the par-four 10th and got another birdie and he was on his way.
Allen, Austin hold leads at Diamond Resorts Invitational
Former NBA star Ray Allen took the celebrity lead in the Diamond Resorts Invitational at Orlando, Fla., and PGA Tour Champions player Woody Austin remained on top in the professional competition.
Allen shot a four-under 67 on the Four Seasons Resort’s Tranquilo course, scoring 30 points under the modified Stableford scoring system to push his two-day total 50. Allen had eight birdies and four bogeys, with a birdie worth three points, a par one point and a bogey zero points.
Former pitcher Mark Mulder was three points back, and defending champion Mardy Fish was third with 46 points. Mulder had a 21-point day, and former tennis player Fish scored 29 points.
Austin followed his opening 59 with a 66 for a 73-point total. Joe Durant was second at 68 after a 34-point round, and Brandy Jobe earned 32 points to reach 65.
Lexi Thompson was tied for ninth with 55 points to top the four LPGA Tour players in the professional field. Brooke Henderson was tied for 19th with 49 points, and Brittany Lang was Brittany Lincicome were tied for 26th in the 31-player field with 44 points. All of the players are teeing off from the same tees.
Storm takes control at SA Open
England’s Graeme Storm shot a five-under 67 to take a three-stroke leader over second-ranked Rory McIlroy into the final round of the SA Open in Johannesburg.
Storm had five birdies and extended his bogey-free run to 41 holes. He was at 17-under 199 at Glendower and in position for his second European Tour title after winning the French Open in 2007.
McIlroy also had a 67. The Northern Irishman is making his first start of the year.
Making his first appearance at the tournament since 2008, McIlroy was a stroke behind South African leaders Trevor Fisher Jr. and Keith Horne.