Justin Thomas keeps slim lead at Zozo Championship with late birdies

  • Jon Rahm strikes from the 18th fairway during the third round of the Zozo Championship on Saturday at Sherwood Nation Club in Thousand Oaks. Rahm shot a 9-under-par 63 and also is one shot behind leader Justin Thomas. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Lanto Griffin hits from the shelter to the 2nd environment-friendly during the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

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  • Sebastian Munoz responds after sinking a putt on the 18th opening during the third round of the Zozo Championship golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tiger Woods hits from the 10th tee during the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Jon Rahm hits from the shelter to the 18th environment-friendly during the third round of the Zozo Championship golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tiger Woods hits from the 11th fairway during the 3rd round of the Zozo Championship golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Lanto Griffin hits from the first fairway throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Bubba Watson hits from the 6th tee during the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tony Finau hits from the 8th tee during the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tiger Woods enjoys his shot from the shelter off the 10th fairway during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas strikes from the second tee throughout the third round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tiger Woods hits from the 11th tee during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tiger Woods sees his shot from the 11th fairway during the third round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas strikes from the 2nd fairway throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tony Finau hits from the 9th tee during the 3rd round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Lanto Griffin hits from the very first fairway during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tony Finau hits from the 9th fairway during the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas strikes from shelter to the 2nd eco-friendly during the third round of the Zozo Championship golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Harris English hits from the 5th fairway during the 3rd round of the Zozo Championship golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Lanto Lion strikes from the 2nd tee throughout the third round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas strikes from the initial fairway throughout the third round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Bubba Watson strikes from the sixth fairway during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tony Finau strikes from the 9th fairway during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Tiger Woods strikes from the 11th tee during the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Patrick Cantlay strikes from the fourth tee during the third round of the Zozo Championship golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Patrick Cantlay walks on the 4th fairway during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Lanto Lion hits from the bunker to the 2nd eco-friendly throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Patrick Cantlay strikes from the 18th fairway during the 3rd round of the Zozo Championship golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Deer run behind Bubba Watson on the 18th fairway throughout the third round of the Zozo Championship golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Rose gauges his putt on the 18th hole during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Viktor Hovland chips from a shelter to the 18th environment-friendly during the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Jon Rahm strikes from the 18th fairway during the third round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Webb Simpson strikes from the 18th fairway during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Jon Rahm strolls to the 18th eco-friendly after hitting from the bunker throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Championship golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Ryan Palmer strikes from the 18th fairway throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Sebastian Munoz strikes from the 18th fairway during the 3rd round of the Zozo Championship golf tournament Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas measures his putt on the 18th hole during the third round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Bubba Watson hits from the 18th fairway throughout the third round of the Zozo Championship golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Bubba Watson strikes from the 18th fairway throughout the third round of the Zozo Championship golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Bubba Watson reacts after his shot from the 18th fairway throughout the third round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas, left, strolls with his caddie to the 18th environment-friendly throughout the third round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Ryan Palmer strikes from the 18th fairway throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas strikes from the 18th fairway throughout the third round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Abraham Ancer strikes from the 18th fairway throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf event Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

  • Justin Thomas, right, responds after placing on the 18th hole beside Dylan Frittelli throughout the 3rd round of the Zozo Champion golf competition Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez).

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THOUSAND OAKS– Justin Thomas had not been playing badly. It only really felt in this way Saturday at the Zozo Championship at Sherwood Country Club, where being a few shots under par methods losing ground. He was 3 under and currently had actually shed the lead he had at the beginning.

The final hour transformed every little thing– his score, his position, even his overview.

Thomas got one good break, made 2 excellent birdie putts and also wound up with a 5-under-par 67 that gave him a one-shot lead over Jon Rahm entering into the last round.

” Really did not have my best stuff by any type of methods, however to fire a round like that is huge on a training course similar to this,” Thomas said. “Generally I’m grinding to fire a 1-, 2-, 3-under. Below at Sherwood, ball games are really low and you need to be able to– insane as it is– shoot 5 under to keep speed.”

He obtained there with an 8-foot the same level putt on the 15th, a 10-foot birdie putt on the 16th after his tee shot virtually entered into a creek and also he gained back the lead with a 30-foot birdie putt up the slope on the par-3 17th.

” Great to give myself a little of energy and also cap off what I seemed like was an attractive ordinary day.”

It was anything but standard for Rahm. He was 5 under through 5 openings and saved the same level at the end for a 63 that left him one shot behind. Lanto Lion, that had the lead up until bogeys on two of his last 4 openings, was an additional shot behind.

” Tee to environment-friendly was quite a lot the exact same. Maybe just a bit much better, but I made the putts, which constantly helps, right?” Rahm said. “Making the putt on 1 and 2 &http://#8230; &http://#8230; released me up a bit. Obtained a really, truly great round going beforehand.”

Thomas was at 19-under 197.

For all the reduced scores, it was one more grind for Tiger Woods, the Zozo Champion champion last year in Japan, that could only take care of a 71.

” The fairway was gettable as well as I just didn’t do it,” stated Woods, who is trying prepping to attempt to protect his Masters title following month.

Phil Mickelson opened up with 7 birdies in eight holes, just to play the remainder of the means in 2 over for a 67. A bogey from the fairway on his last hole caused an additional example of exactly how odd this year has actually been due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mickelson and also Woods, the 2 greatest reels in golf, will be playing in the exact same team Sunday. And also there will not be any kind of followers on the golf course to enjoy them,

It will be the ninth time Woods as well as Mickelson play together in the last round on the PGA Scenic tour, as well as the very first time they have no bearing on the result. They were 16 shots out of the lead. The initial time they played together on a Sunday went to the 1997 PGA Champion when they were eight shots behind and each shot 75.

The other end of scoring is plenty compelling.

Thomas, the No. 3 player in the world, is choosing his third triumph this year. Rahm can go back to No. 1 worldwide. Lion is equally fascinating. He won his initial PGA Trip title last year in Houston and revealed for so much of Saturday that he does not get caught up in much. Plus, his putting stroke has actually been pure all week.

Griffin opened up with four straight birdies to take the lead, and he remained there up until the end of the round. He mosted likely to 19 under with a 15-foot birdie on the 14th opening– two free from Thomas at that factor– when his tee shot took on the flag on the best side of the eco-friendly at the 15th and also drifted as well much appropriate as well as into the risk.

Rather than going to the decline area, he mosted likely to a various collection of tees that enabled for a full speed and also much better control, dropped that wedge into 20 feet and also made the putt to leave with bogey.

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Thomas was playing well enough, even if he had little to show for it after opening with two birdies. In problem off the tee on the par-5 13th, he picked to go down on the concrete cart course and also hit a difficult draw– without harming his club– back into the fairway. However after that he didn’t capitalize by hitting an average wedge to the fringe to set up par.

He hit vehicle driver on the par-5 16th, a low cut for shape that caught a sycamore tree and also went down right into the harsh as opposed to the risk. Thomas didn’t recognize that till later on.

” I assumed it was mosting likely to sort of skirt around that tree and also most likely to the end of the fairway, and afterwards I heard it struck the branches,” he stated. “Yeah, I presume we got lucky there.”

Former UCLA standout Patrick Cantlay really did not get much out of his round either, however he kept bogeys off his card for the third straight day. He was three shots behind, together with Sebastian Muñoz and Ryan Palmer, that each had 66.

Webb Simpson (67) and Bubba Watson (68) were among those four shots behind.

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