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Thomas strengthens grip on Player of the Year

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ATLANTA – Clarity hasn’t exactly set in for the PGA Tour, but there are a few elements that are coming into focus.

Although Justin Thomas still needs two more solid rounds at the Tour Championship to put the finishing touches on what has already been a career season, his second-round 66 moved him into a share of the lead with Paul Casey and Webb Simpson. It also brought the Jack Nicklaus Award one step closer to the PGA champion.

Prior to the playoffs, most players said Thomas was the favorite to win the Tour’s Player of the Year Award – which is voted on by the players – unless something dramatic happened in the postseason.

The rough translation was: If either Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson or Hideki Matsuyama won the FedExCup, the Player of the Year vote could go another direction, but that doesn’t appear likely.

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Current FedExCup Playoff points standings

Matsuyama has struggled during the playoffs and is currently tied for 26th; and Johnson is in a tie for 15th place - four strokes back - along with Spieth.

“I would love to win it but then again, I know if I take care of business this week and I do what I came here to do, my goal, then I don't think it will be an issue,” Thomas said. “But there's obviously a lot of things that could happen, there are other players that are pushing for it just as hard as I am. But that's a couple down on the priority list at the moment.”

A victory at East Lake would be Thomas’ sixth of the season and his second in the playoffs following his commanding performance at the Dell Technologies Championship.