July 12, 2020 / 12:43 AM / a month ago

Golf: Flawless play propels Justin Thomas to lead at Muirfield

Jul 11, 2020; Dublin, Ohio, USA; Justin Thomas plays his shot from the 15th tee during the third round of the Workday Charity Open golf tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Justin Thomas shot a second consecutive six-under par to seize the lead from Collin Morikawa at the third round of the Workday Charity Open in Dublin, Ohio on Saturday.

The world number five Thomas remained bogey-free, only the third player ever to do so through 54 holes at Muirfield Village Golf Club, ending the day with a two-stroke lead over Norwegian Viktor Hovland heading into the final round of the tournament.

Morikawa, whose two-day total was the second lowest in course history, drained a 28-foot putt on the sixth hole for his second of four birdies on the day, but struggled with windy conditions on the course, shooting four bogeys to make par and slipping to third on the leaderboard.

“I put myself in spots you couldn’t put yourself in,” the 23-year-old said. “Couldn’t really figure out wind directions, how much to adjust. But whole new day tomorrow and kind of glad I fought it out.”

Thomas, who has already won two PGA Tour events so far in the COVID-19 interrupted season but missed the cut at last month’s travelers championship, said patience was the key in catching up on Morikawa.

“I understood that it wasn’t Sunday, I didn’t need to press, I didn’t need to try to catch him immediately,” he said. “I know that I’m playing well, and I knew that I was playing well, so I just needed to keep doing what I was doing to try to move up one by one.”

Thomas will have to fend off 22-year-old upstart Hovland, who won the Puerto Rico Open in February and has not finished outside the top 25 in any tournament since the tour returned from coronavirus hiatus.

“If you would have asked me just a year ago, had my first pro start at Travelers last year, and to already have a win on my tour card is pretty awesome,” said Hovland.

The Muirfield Village Golf Club event was added to the PGA Tour’s calendar after the John Deere Classic, which was supposed to be held in Illinois, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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