Justin Thomas finishes with a kick to lead by one in California

Jon Rahm in the hunt after a fine 63, Rory McIlroy posts a second-consecutive 67

Justin Thomas finished in style to retain a one-stroke lead in California. Photograph: Harry How/Getty

Justin Thomas finished in style to retain a one-stroke lead in California. Photograph: Harry How/Getty

 

Justin Thomas left it until late to maintain his lead at the Zozo Championship in California, retaining his one-shot advantage with back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th.

After taking the lead with a stellar round of 67 on Friday, the American sunk birdies on his opening two holes as he looked set for another big day.

But with an abundance of low scores among the chasing pack, Thomas cooled off throughout the rest of his opening nine, picking up just one more birdie and a bogey to head into the turn at two under.

He fell out of the lead on the back nine, nabbing just one more birdie on the 11th, before his late surge proved just enough to propel him back to the top of the leaderboard with a five-under 67.

Thomas sits one shot in front of Spaniard Jon Rahm, who surged up the leaderboard on Saturday thanks to a stellar round of 63.

Meanwhile Rory McIlroy put together a second-consecutive round of 67 on Saturday to leave himself in a share of 36th place.

Rory McIlroy posted a second-consecutive 67 at the Zozo Championship. Photograph: Harry How/Getty
Rory McIlroy posted a second-consecutive 67 at the Zozo Championship. Photograph: Harry How/Getty

McIlroy was two under for his round before a double bogey on the ninth saw him slump back to level par. However a strong back nine, with birdies on the 12th, 13th, 15th 16th and 17th saw him move to nine under par for the championship.

England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick leads the British contingent after he carded a five-under 67 to nab a share of seventh place.

After heading into the third round just three shots behind Thomas, Tyrrell Hatton fell out of contention with a disastrous four-over 76.

Collated third round scores & totals in the USPGA Tour ZOZO Championship (USA unless stated, par 72):

197 Justin Thomas 65 65 67

198 Jon Rahm (Spa) 68 67 63

199 Lanto Griffin 66 65 68

200 Ryan Palmer 69 65 66, Patrick Cantlay 67 65 68, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 64 70 66

201 Scottie Scheffler 67 65 69, Bubba Watson 70 63 68, Brian Harman 66 68 67, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 66 65 70, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 69 65 67, Webb Simpson 69 65 67

202 Tony Finau 69 64 69, Cameron Smith (Aus) 67 69 66

203 Joel Dahmen 68 70 65, Jason Kokrak 69 65 69, Alex Noren (Swe) 67 68 68, Russell Henley 68 72 63, Cameron Champ 70 68 65

204 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 68 66 70, Kevin Na 70 65 69, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 70 66 68, Patrick Reed 70 63 71, Corey Conners (Can) 69 67 68

205 Richy Werenski 72 61 72, Carlos Oritz (Mex) 72 65 68, Brad Kennedy (Aus) 72 67 66, Sungjae Im (Kor) 68 68 69, Takumi Kanaya (a) (Jpn) 70 67 68, Harris English 66 67 72

206 Daniel Berger 69 68 69, Justin Rose (Eng) 67 67 72, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 71 64 71, Andrew Landry 69 67 70, Kevin Kisner 66 67 73

207 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 73 67 67, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 67 72 68, Jim Herman 70 65 72

208 Jason Day (Aus) 68 71 69, Xander Schauffele 69 72 67, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 68 73 67, Mark Hubbard 67 70 71, Talor Gooch 74 63 71, Shugo Imahira (Jpn) 75 64 69, Brendon Todd 69 69 70, Collin Morikawa 71 65 72, Tyler Duncan 68 68 72

209 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 70 71 68, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 74 68 67, Matt Kuchar 70 69 70, Gunn Charoenkul (Tha) 73 67 69, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 73 66 70, Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) 73 66 70, Chan Kim 69 73 67, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 65 68 76, Paul Casey (Eng) 69 71 69, Nick Taylor (Can) 70 68 71

210 Brendan Steele 72 70 68, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 67 66 77, Tom Hoge 71 70 69, Jordan Spieth 70 66 74

211 Rickie Fowler 71 67 73, Kevin Streelman 74 67 70

212 Harry Higgs 73 66 73, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 68 74, Adam Hadwin (Can) 75 67 70, Billy Horschel 72 67 73

213 Phil Mickelson 72 74 67, Matthew Wolff 69 69 75, Tiger Woods 76 66 71, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 68 70 75

215 Adam Long 77 72 66

216 Marc Leishman (Aus) 71 73 72

217 Mikumu Horikawa (Jpn) 74 74 69

218 Danny Lee (Nzl) 72 76 70

219 Naoki Sekito (Jpn) 71 80 68

221 Michael Thompson 76 73 72

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