MEDINAH, Ill. — Justin Thomas opened with five straight birdies, added a pair of eagles and shattered the course record at soft, vulnerable Medinah with an 11-under 61 to take a six-shot lead into the final round of the BMW Championship.

Thomas hit 5-wood to 2 feet for an eagle on No. 10, holed out from 180 yards with an 8-iron on No. 16, and made eight birdies to turn a tight race into a one-man show.

“I felt good about my game for a while, and you don’t know when something like this going to happen,” Thomas said. “We’ve all been talking the last couple of weeks that I’m due to have one, and it’s nice when it happens.”

Thomas was at 21-under 195, six shots ahead of Tony Finau (68) and Patrick Cantlay (67). He has a clear path to his first victory in a year, and it would give him the FedEx Cup lead going into the Tour Championship at East Lake.

The goal for Tiger Woods is simply to get to the Tour Championship, where last year he ended five years without winning. Woods had a bogey-free 67, his lowest score since the final round of the Memorial.

When Medinah is this much of a pushover, it didn’t help all that much. He was tied for 31st, likely needing an 11th-place finish to advance to East Lake.

“I shoot 60, it should be all right,” Woods said, a tongue-in-cheek comment made about the time Thomas was teeing off.

Thomas had a pair of 12-foot birdie putts, hit to 2 feet on No. 3, holed a 15-footer on No. 4, and was out of position only briefly before a fifth straight birdie on the par-5 fifth.

But it was the back nine where Thomas seized control.

First, he drilled a 5-wood that rolled out to 2 feet below the cup. Ordinarily, that might have been his best shot of the day. For this round, it didn’t rate among the top three. He chipped in for birdie from a fluffy lie behind the 14th green. Understated was his pitch to the 15th after driving into the water to save par.

And then came the fireworks on a cloudy, dreary afternoon that featured a rain stoppage of just more than an hour.

From 180 yards, he cut an 8-iron that looked all the way, landed short of the hole and rolled in. Thomas smiled and mentioned, “Brooks Koepka’s money,” to caddie Jimmy Johnson, referring to a wager Thomas has with Koepka on holing shots from over 50 yards ($1,000) and a hole-in-one ($5,000). That put Thomas up $7,000.

With adrenaline running high, he hit 9-iron from a forward tee and a front pin over the water to 6 feet for his last birdie.

Finau holed out from the fourth fairway for eagle. Cantlay had five birdies.

Low scores were everywhere. Medinah never looked more vulnerable.

“It doesn’t matter what golf course it is,” Thomas said. “You give us soft, good greens and soft fairways, we’re going to tear it apart. It’s just how it is.”

In five majors held at Medinah, the lowest score was a 65. That was matched twice Thursday, by Thomas and Jason Kokrak. Hideki Matsuyama set the standard with a 63 on Friday. Thomas beat that by two.

“I hope the trend doesn’t continue, unless it’s me,” Thomas said with a grin.

Thomas hasn’t won since the Bridgestone Invitational last year, and he wasn’t ready to call this one over. He wasn’t thinking about next week and the $15 million prize, or even making sure he starts his season on Maui with the rest of the PGA Tour winners.

Only seven players in PGA Tour history have lost a six-shot lead in the final round, most recently Dustin Johnson at the 2017 HSBC Champions.

For others, plenty is at stake.

Rory Sabbatini shot 30 on the back nine – four birdies over his last five holes – and was alone in fourth. That would be enough to get him into the Tour Championship for the first time since 2007, the first year of the FedEx Cup.

Finau could lock up a spot on the Presidents Cup team if he keeps his position.

The perks of the Tour Championship include a chase for a $15 million top prize, along with a spot in all the majors next year.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Thomas Pieters of Belgium birdied the final hole to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Czech Masters in Vysoky Ujezd, Czech Republic.

Two shots off the lead after the second round, the Belgian golfer had a strong start on the front nine. He recovered from a bogey on the third hole with four straight birdies and added an eagle on the par-5 10th to top the leaderboard.

The 2015 Czech Masters champion shot a 6-under-par 66 for a 16-under 200 total at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague.

Adria Arnaus of Spain surged up the leaderboard with a bogey-free round of 7-under 65 that put him in second place at 15 under.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Monday qualifier Doug Barron had a one-stroke lead in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open when lightning forced the suspension of play late in the second round in Endicott, New York.

Making his second PGA Tour Champions start after turning 50 last month, Barron was 10 under for the tournament playing the par-4 15th when play was stopped.

Barron is coming off a fifth-place tie in the Senior British Open in his Champions debut.

Scott McCarron was tied for second after a 66. He won the event two years ago.

Marco Dawson also was 9 under, along with Scott Parel and David McKenzie.

U.S. AMATEUR: John Augenstein and Andy Ogletree advanced to the final, in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Augenstein beat William Holcomb V 3 and 2, and Ogletree topped teenager and fellow Mississippian Cohen Trolio 3 and 1.

Augenstein, a senior at Vanderbilt, and Ogletree, a Georgia Tech senior, will meet Sunday in a 36-hole final split over two courses, starting on the resort’s renovated No. 4 course and finishing at No. 2 – the site of three men’s U.S. Opens and the 2008 U.S. Amateur.


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