Justin Thomas vaults into share of PGA Dell lead

Norton (United States) (AFP) –


Justin Thomas roared back into the PGA Tour playoff picture with sizzling 63 on Sunday to grab a share of the lead after the third round of the Dell Championship.

Thomas, who tied for sixth last week in the first tournament of the 2017 FedExCup playoffs, is the co-leader with Australia's Marc Leishman at 12-under 201 heading into Monday's final round of the tournament at the TPC Boston course.

England's Paul Casey is alone in third after shooting a four-under 67 while world number two Jordan Spieth shot a 66 and is tied with Grayson Murray (67) and Canada's Adam Hadwin (68) for fourth at 10-under.

Despite a recent streak of three straight missed cuts, the 24-year-old Thomas is in the thick of the FedExCup race after his bogey-free round Sunday. The reigning PGA Championship winner has 10 finishes in the top 10 this season, including four victories.

His playoff campaign got a huge shot in the arm on Sunday as he drained eight birdies with all coming on par-fours on a rainy day at the par-71, 7,342 yard course.

"I'm extremely pleased," Thomas said. "It was a great day. I just felt I had total control of my game. I drove it beautifully. I hit my irons really well, and my short game was good if I needed it."

The top 70 players on the playoff points list after this event advance to the BMW Championship, set for September 14-17 at Conway Farms Golf Club in Illinois.

Then the top 30 players following the BMW Championship will qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, beginning September 21. A points reset will take place prior to the Tour Championship, giving all players in the field a mathematical opportunity to win the Tour title.

Leishman fired a bogey-free 65 to grab a share of the 54-hole lead with Thomas. He rolled in six birdies on the day and has played his past 28 holes bogey-free. He never previous held a lead or a co-lead heading into the final round of a PGA Tour event.

"Knew coming in here that I needed to play well to try and obviously rise up the rankings, but you know, firstly, get to the Tour Championship," Leishman said.

"So you know, happy with my start, but I need another good round (Monday) to really turn it into a good chance to contend."

Casey finished strong making birdies on three of his final six holes as he has been flying under the radar late in the season.

Heading into the Dell, the world No. 14 was 12th in the playoff standings after finishing solo fifth last week at the Northern Trust event.

Jon Rahm, of Spain, who carried a two-shot advantage into Sunday's round, fired a third-round 71 and is tied for seventh at 204 along with opening round leader and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (66).