Justin Thomas sent a message to the rest of the field on Saturday at the Workday Charity Open: come and get me because I don’t plan on falling back.
For the third consecutive round, Thomas went around Muirfield Village golf course without making a bogey, and will head to Sunday looking for his third win of the season and the 13th of his career.
The 27-year-old fired a round of 66, balancing three birdies on the front-nine with three on the back. That kept him ahead of two young stars, Victor Hovland and Collin Morikawa
“Just kind of executed what we were trying to do,” said Thomas. “Got the ball in the fairway very well and hit my irons well.”
Thomas has led or been tied for the lead after 54 holes 12 times in his career and been victorious eight times. A 13th win would make him the youngest player to reach that total since Tiger Woods.
He knows there is still a lot of work to be done before he can claim another title.
“You know, it's a little bit of luck, as well,” he said. “You've got to get the putts to go your way, and some bounces need to go your way. But if I can just hit good shots, that's going to put me in a good position.”
Hovland matched Thomas’s 66 and is two strokes back. He started the tournament on Thursday going three over after his first 10 holes but has rallied since that time to get into contention, in large part due to simply hitting fairways and greens.
“I'm really proud of how I was able to turn it around,” Hovland said, “and just kind of play better and better every single day.”
Morikawa, who started the day with a three-shot lead, could do no better than even-par 72 and is three off the lead. On several occasions, he found himself scrambling to save par after misjudging winds and missing greens.
“It was really up and down,” Morikawa said of his day. “I put myself in spots you couldn't put yourself in.”
Sam Burns and Kevin Streelman are tied at 11 under while Rory Sabbatini and Ian Poulter are one shot behind them.
For the most part, the contingent of five Canadians struggled on the day, falling down the leaderboard. Mackenzie Hughes is tied for 19th, best among the Canucks, after an even-par 72. Roger Sloan was the loan Canadian to shoot under par, with a two-under 70. He is in a tie for 29th.
Corey Conners shot 74 and is tied for 48th along with Nick Taylor, who signed for a 76.
Adam Hadwin, who also carded a round of 76, is tied for 54th.