Thomas leads by one entering an extended final day at TOUR Championship
August 24, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- August 24, 2019
- Justin Thomas played five holes before the third round of the TOUR Championship was suspended for the day. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
ATLANTA – The decisive day of the FedExCup Playoffs – and the final day of the 2018-19 PGA TOUR season – will provide a test of both nerves and stamina for the leaders Sunday at the TOUR Championship.
The top four players on the leaderboard following Saturday’s suspension of the third round will need to complete 13 holes Sunday morning, then come back to play a full 18 for the final round in the afternoon at East Lake. At stake is the FedExCup title and the increased $15 million bonus for the winner, the biggest prize on the PGA TOUR.
Play in the third round will resume at 8 a.m. ET. The final round will have twosomes off one tee, with the leaders starting in the early afternoon.
Golf Channel will show the remainder of the third round, then return for its regular schedule for the final round from Noon-1:30 p.m. ET. NBC will then pick up coverage from 1:30 p.m.-6 p.m. ET.
PGA TOUR LIVE will start at 8 a.m., showing the featured groups of Tony Finau/Jon Rahm, and Matt Kuchar/Adam Scott completing their third rounds. After the third round, highlights will be available until the final round begins, starting with featured groups (to be decided) then moving to featured holes coverage involving hole nos. 1, 15 and 18.
PGA TOUR Radio will provide its regular coverage between 1-6 p.m. ET.
For fans in the Atlanta area, grounds tickets for Saturday will be honored Sunday.
Justin Thomas, at 12 under, will go into Sunday with a one-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka. Xander Schauffele is two shots back. Each of those players completed just five holes Saturday before play was suspended due to inclement weather. Less than 30 minutes later, two lightning strikes hit East Lake, with six people suffering non-life threatening injuries. Play was soon called for the remainder of the day.
A chance of showers remains in the forecast for Sunday, along with a slim possibility of lightning. According to PGA TOUR meteorologist Joe Halvorson, “A few showers and thunderstorms are possible Sunday morning as a frontal boundary slides south of the area. Showers may linger into the early afternoon before becoming isolated in coverage. Instability will be very limited in the afternoon, keeping the thunderstorm threat quite low at just 10%. The temperature will reach a high near 80F. Easterly winds will be a bit breezy, with occasional gusts to 15 mph.”
Koepka had entered the third round with a one-shot lead over Thomas and McIlroy but bogeyed two of his first three holes. Thomas parred each of his five holes to take the lead. It was a slow start for each of the top four players, as they failed to produce a single birdie in 20 cumulative holes played.
Chez Reavie and Paul Casey are tied for fifth at 9 under. Reavie was among the hottest players on the course when play was suspended, having birdied three of his seven holes. Gary Woodland (5 under through 12) and Kevin Kisner (4 under through 12) also had strong rounds going.
“I’m hitting the ball well, striking it well, putting it well,” Reavie said while headed to his car Saturday afternoon. “Just want to keep taking advantage of that.”
Reavie finished 10th in the FedExCup in 2011, his only previous appearance at East Lake. He won the Travelers Championship earlier this season, his first TOUR victory in 11 years.
Thomas, who entered this week at 10 under in the new Starting Strokes format, is seeking to join Tiger Woods as the only two-time FedExCup champs. Thomas won the FedExCup title in 2017 but did not win the TOUR Championship that year, as Schauffele won the tournament competition that week.
With the new format, there will be only one champion. Asked earlier this week if he had felt unsatisfied by not winning the TOUR Championship two years ago along with the FedExCup, Thomas replied: “100 percent.”
He’s now 31 holes away from making amends.
McIlroy also is in position to be a two-time FedExCup champion, having won in 2016. Koepka -- who entered the FedExCup Playoffs ranked No. 1 in points – and Schauffele are among those seeking their first FedExCup titles.
Paul Casey (8 under) and Patrick Reed (7 under) are the only other players within five shots of the lead. Fifteen players are within eight shots of the lead.
Just four players – Lucas Glover, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Brandt Snedeker -- finished their third rounds before play was suspended, leaving 26 others to make the early start Sunday when play resumes.