HONOLULU – Another day, another record performance for Justin Thomas, who followed rounds of 59-64 with a 65 despite not having his best stuff early on Saturday at the Sony Open; but he wasn’t the only one flirting with the record books on Day 3.
Justin Thomas is no stranger to record performances after becoming the seventh player in Tour history to post a sub-60 round and breaking the 36-hole scoring record with his 123 total, but his quest for the 54-hole scoring title hit close to home.
Thomas closed with a birdie at the 18th hole for a 22-under 188 total, tying the previous best three-day score, which was set by Steve Stricker at the 2010 John Deere Classic. Jimmy Johnson, Thomas’ caddie, was working for Stricker in 2010.
“Jimmy caddied for both of us, so that's a pretty cool record. I'd say he's a good omen for those records for 54 holes,” Thomas said.
Stricker closed with a 70 at the ’10 John Deere to win by two strokes, which is also a good omen.
Although he came within a single putt of becoming the eighth player, and the second this week, to post a sub-60 score on the PGA Tour, Kevin Kisner quickly dismissed the notion that his 10-under 60 put him back into the hunt at Waialae Country Club.
“Whoa, I don’t know about that,” he cautioned, “unless [Thomas] gets food poisoning or something that doesn’t seem likely.”
Kisner’s round lifted him into a tie for sixth place at 13 under, but he is still nine strokes off the pace.
Much like last week at the SBS Tournament of Champions, Jordan Spieth figured his title chances had been blown away by Thomas’ performance through three rounds, but he still has something to prove on Sunday.
“I probably needed 8 under today to have much of a chance. But we'll go out tomorrow and try to do what we did in Kapalua and try to come in from the back door and see what it does,” said Spieth, who is alone in ninth place at 12 under, 10 shots off the lead.
Last week in Maui, Spieth began the final round in 19th place but closed with a 65 to tie for third place, six shots behind Thomas.
Hitting fairways is overrated. Point of fact, Thomas has hit just 22 of 42 fairways, yet he enjoys a seven-stroke advantage through three rounds.
Widely considered a ball-striker’s golf course, Waialae was statistically the 12th toughest course on Tour to find a fairway last year, with players connecting with the preferred playing surface just 55 percent of the time.
“I am kind of starting to hit a decent amount of drivers. Just to use my length to my advantage, and I feel comfortable with some of the drives,” Thomas said.