HONOLULU – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – A day after setting the PGA Tour’s 36-hole scoring record, Justin Thomas matched the tour’s 54-hole scoring mark while continuing to add to his lead at the Sony Open in Honolulu. Thomas shot a 5-under-par 65 on Saturday to leave him at 188, good for a seven-stroke advantage after the third round. He tied Steve Stricker’s record for low score through three rounds. Stricker set the mark in the 2010 John Deere Classic.
“I had a lot of scoring opportunities,” said Thomas, who won the SBS Tournament of Champions on Maui last week. I just hit really poor iron shots, 25, 30 feet. But it was great, I felt like I managed my day really well, and to shoot 5 under not having my best stuff was great.”
Zach Johnson shot a third-round 66 to claim second place at 195.
How safe is Thomas’ lead? No player in PGA Tour history ever blew a lead of more than six shots entering the final round.
“Played with a big lead today and felt like I handled it pretty well,” Thomas said. “Just getting some rest tonight and just going out and treating tomorrow like another round of golf, just because it is.”
Johnson isn’t ruling out his chances of overtaking Thomas.
“I’ve seen it,” Johnson said. “We’ve all seen it at every level. You never know. I’ve got to stick to what I’m doing. Get the ball in the fairway, hit some greens, making some putts. Certainly with the new driver this week … that I haven’t hit in competition, that seemed to pay off. I’m encouraged with the direction. Just a matter of execution.”
Thomas managed something Saturday he didn’t accomplish in his 59 — a bogey-free round. He started with eight consecutive pars in the third round, made two birdies in a row around the turn, then closed with three birdies in the final three holes.
He hopes to close out the fourth wire-to-wire win Sony Open history, not counting ties at the end of rounds. Howard Twitty (1993), Paul Azinger (2000) and K.J. Choi (2008) accomplished the feat previously.
Hudson Swafford and England’s Justin Rose each posted a 66 to tie for third place at 196 with Gary Woodland, had a 68 on Saturday. Kevin Kisner completed the second-best round of the tournament, a 60, to jump from 13th to a tie for sixth at 197. Kisner is level with Jamie Lovemark (third-round 65) and Scotland’s Russell Knox (66).
Kisner’s bogey-free round features five birdies on the back nine, which he played first, then five more on the front nine. He missed an eagle putt on his final hole that would have given him a 59.
“It was fun all the way from start to finish,” Kisner said. “Hit it great. Gave myself a lot of looks. Obviously, I made a ton of putts. That’s what happens when you shoot 10 under.
“Can’t be that upset (about the eagle putt). I hit a good putt, hit a good shot, and then it was fun coming down the stretch. Almost felt like you were in kind of the heat to win. That was fun.”
Jordan Spieth sits alone in ninth place at 198 after a 66.
Ollie Schniederjans, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Tony Finau, Charles Howell III and Japan’s Hideto Tanihara share 10th place at 199