AKRON, Ohio – Justin Thomas hasn’t wavered all week, and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is now his to lose after a 3-under 67 Saturday in Round 3.
That got Thomas to 14 under, good for a 3-shot lead and setting up a must-see final pairing with Rory McIlroy for 2 p.m. ET Sunday. McIlroy matched Thomas’ 67 in Round 3 to get to T-2 with Ian Poulter at 11 under. Jason Day is alone in fourth at 10 under.
“It will be fun,” Thomas said. “Rory and I have played together a lot. We’ve played together a lot in tournaments, but never in this kind of situation. … I’m sure we’ll chat here and there between shots, but he’s out there doing his thing and I’m out here doing mine.”
Thomas is currently ranked No. 3 and has won twice this season, most recently at the Honda Classic in February. McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational the following month and has been up-and-down since a disappointing final-round 74 at the Masters, with two missed cuts and five starts of T-16 or better.
They’re both trending in the right direction ahead of next week’s PGA Championship in St. Louis, where McIlroy is hoping to add a third Wanamker Trophy to his collection and Thomas is trying to repeat for the first time in tournament history.
Thomas is coming off missed cut at the British Open, but he said Wednesday he was much closer to the 69 he shot in Round 1 than the 77 he shot in Round 2 at Carnoustie. And he’s backed that up through three rounds in Akron.
“I felt like I had been close,” Thomas said. “The results and the scores didn’t show it. I’m just happy to finally play this place well. Obviously I have a day left, but I played three really good days of golf. … We still have a day left just to keep sticking to our game plan. I’m excited for the opportunity tomorrow. I guess it’s been a little while in my eyes, but have a lot of really good players that are going to be chasing me down.”
McIlroy has the best opportunity to do it, and he’d love to finish this one off after finishing behind second behind Francesco Molinari in both the BMW PGA Championship and British Open.
“I’ve finished second way too many times this year,” McIlroy said. “And third, whatever. I played well enough to win a few times this year and I only got over the line once. Tomorrow’s a great opportunity to try and win again. I’ll need a good round. I’m still a few behind but, yeah, I’m getting a little sick of the second places.”