Justin Thomas Holds 2 Shot Lead in SBS Tournament of Champions
Justin Thomas, who won the CIMB Classic for the second straight year to earn his way into the SBS Tournament of Champions, posted a third-round 67 and is at 18-under with a two shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama.
Thomas has fired a 67 in each of the first three rounds.
Three out of the last five leaders or co-leaders through 54 holes at Kapalua have gone on to win (Steve Stricker-2012, Dustin Johnson-2013 in a 54-hole event, Jordan Spieth-2016).
Through seven events in the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season, only two of seven third-round leaders have gone on to victory (Hideki Matsuyama-WGC-HSBC Champions, Mackenzie Hughes-The RSM Classic).
Last year, eventual champion Jordan Spieth stood at 24-under 195, good for a five-stroke lead over Brooks Koepka.
The toughest hole Saturday was the par-4 17th, yielding a 4.219 average. The par-5 fifth hole was the easiest, playing to a 4.188 average.
Golfers enjoyed mainly sunny skies with highs near 75 degrees. and winds blowing from the NNE at 10-15 mph.
Justin Thomas 67-67-67—201 (-18)
Hideki Matsuyama 69-68-66—203 (-16)
William McGirt 70-69-66—205 (-14)
Jimmy Walker 65-70-70—205 (-14)
Ryan Moore 67-67-71—205 (-14)
Thomas’ third round was highlighted by an eagle at the short par-4 14th, where he drove the green and holed an eagle putt of 22 feet, 1 inch.
Thomas’ 18-under total through three rounds is his second-lowest score in relation to par through three rounds in his PGA TOUR career. He was 20-under through three rounds at the 2015 CIMB Classic, where he ended up claiming his first career win.
Thomas’ stats through three rounds: 33 of 45 fairways, 48 of 54 greens, 88 putts, 2 of 2 sand saves.
The Alabama product’s 2015-16 season concluded with his first appearance in the season-ending TOUR Championship thanks to three third-place finishes to go along with his maiden victory. Thomas played the second and third rounds with Ryan Moore, who won the CIMB Classic in 2013 and 2014, before Thomas’ back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016.
Thomas has two top-10s in three starts so far this season and he sits in third in the FedExCup. In his first start at the SBS Tournament of Champions last year, Thomas finished T21.
This is the third time that Thomas has held at least a share of the lead through 54 holes, going onto win at the 2015 CIMB Classic. He finished T7 at the 2015 CareerBuilder Challenge after holding a share of the third-round lead. In his 2016 win at the CIMB Classic, Thomas was T2 heading into the final round.
A win would make Thomas the first multiple-winner of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season. In the 2015-16 PGA TOUR season, there were six multiple winners: Dustin Johnson (3), Jason Day (3), Jordan Spieth (2), Russell Knox (2), Rory McIlroy (2), Adam Scott (2).
FedExCup leader Hideki Matsuyama shot a third-round 66 and sits at 16-under, two shots back of Justin Thomas.
With his 66 Saturday, Matsuyama has now shot in the 60s in each of his last 13 rounds on the PGA TOUR dating back to his second-round 71 at the TOUR Championship. In his last 11 rounds, Matsuyama is a combined 59 under par.
Matsuyama’s stats through three rounds: 34 of 45 fairways, 48 of 54 greens, 88 putts and he has yet to attempt a sand save.
Matsuyama’s previous five worldwide starts (non-team events):
Won – Japan Open (Japan Golf Tour)
2nd – CIMB Classic (PGA TOUR; runner-up to champion Justin Thomas)
Won – World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions (PGA TOUR)
Won – Taiheyo Masters (Japan Golf Tour)
Won – Hero World Challenge (unofficial PGA TOUR event)
Matsuyama is making his second start at the SBS Tournament of Champions (T3 in 2015).
William McGirt, who earned his way into the field at the SBS Tournament of Champions via his win at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. McGirt followed rounds of 70 and 69 with a 7-under 66 in the third round and stands at 14-under through three rounds.
McGirt had the best season of his career in 2015-16, racking up six top 10s in addition to his first victory. In his only career win at the Memorial, McGirt held a share of the lead entering the final round.
McGirt’s stats: 39 of 45 fairways, 49 of 54 greens, 92 putts and he has yet to attempt a sand save.
2016 Ryder Cup member Ryan Moore will enter the final round four shots back of leader Justin Thomas following a third-round 71.
Moore is making his fifth start at the SBS Tournament of Champions: T20-2015, 10-2014, T28-2013, T6-2010.
Moore finished a career-best seventh in the FedExCup last season, with a career-high nine top-10 finishes.
Moore is in search of his sixth PGA TOUR victory: 2009 Wyndham Championship, 2012 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, 2014 CIMB Classic, 2015 CIMB Classic, 2016 John Deere Classic.
2016 PGA Championship winner and first-round leader Jimmy Walker shot a third-round 70 and sits four shots back of leader Justin Thomas at 14-under.
The SBS Tournament of Champions is the third start of the 2016-17 season for Walker, who missed the cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and finished T77 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
Walker is a six-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including his triumph at the 2016 PGA Championship. He also has a strong record in Hawaii, winning the Sony Open in Hawaii in 2014 and 2015 and finishing runner-up in the 2015 SBS Tournament of Champions.
Highlights From the Rest of the Field
Defending champion Jordan Spieth, who won by eight strokes in 2016, is currently 19th after rounds of 72-69-70, sits 10 strokes behind leader Justin Thomas. The last player to successfully defend at Kapalua was Geoff Ogilvy (2009-2010).
World No. 1 Jason Day, who is making his season debut this week after sitting during the fall to rest his injured back, opened with rounds of 70-69-70 and is T13 heading into the final round. Here’s a look at Day’s finishes at the SBS Tournament of Champions: T10-2016, T3-2015, T9-2011.
2015 champion Patrick Reed stumbled to a third-round 72 to fall six shots back heading into the final round. Reed owns a victory (2015) and runner-up finish (2016) in three prior starts at the SBS Tournament of Champions (finished T16 in debut appearance in 2014). Reed has yet to post an over-par round in 15 tries at The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort. His worst effort was a final-round even-par 73 in 2014.