Thomas and Poulter lead at Bridgestone, Woods struggles

Thomas and Poulter lead at Bridgestone, Woods struggles

Thomas and Poulter lead at Bridgestone, Woods struggles

Justin Thomas made sure the anticipated duel with Rory McIlroy on Sunday was more like a rout. They live near each other in South Florida and said they spent last weekend practicing together at The Bear's Club.

Woods, an eight-times victor at Firestone, electrified the gallery with three early birdies but in the end managed only a middling 68 on a course that was there for the taking, with soft greens allowing players to fire aggressively at the pins.

But this is the first time a trophy is at stake.

"The course was a lot tougher today and I just completely lost it on the last six holes. To make that putt on 1 and again on 2 just kind of calmed me and got me going for the day". He won The Open two years later but he's still searching for a win at the fourth and final major. He has been runner-up three times, most recently at the British Open two weeks ago. Ian Poulter shot 74. It might be a taller order to take on Thomas, who already has won twice this season and appears to have found his touch with the putter.

"The first 10 holes were pretty good", said Johnson. Day is first with an average of 1.193 strokes gained putting and Phil's average is 1.054, through July 29.

"I feel good about my game and I have a few things to work at the PGA".

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The ability of Thomas to save par was the difference today.

He was at 14-under 196.

One over through the first five holes after a birdie and two bogeys, he produced five birdies in a nine-hole span to separate himself from a star-studded chasing pack. Countryman Marc Leishman carded a 67 and ended Saturday tied for fifth with Kyle Stanley (70). "I like to hit driver as much as possible, and this course allows me to do that, and to be aggressive". Tommy Fleetwood shot 63 on Friday. He then played his last six holes in five-over, including a double bogey at the par-five 17th after his third shot went into the water guarding the green. Blocked by threes, he opted for a 5-wood that started out toward the third tee and sliced over the trees to the rough, pin-high about 15 feet away from an up-and-down. At the 11th, his drive went well left into thick woods. It wasn't like I was making bombs, I was making eight, 10-footers. He bogeyed the next from a bunker, and fell three shots behind, but that par save on No. 4 helped by not dropping a shot, and by understanding how the course was playing.

"It's great we keep getting in position", he told Golf Channel.

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If someone asked you "Is Tiger back?" in July, you were probably tempted to say "Yes". "I think it's going to be great prep for next week as well, so I'll obviously be fully engaged to try to win this tournament but knowing that if I play well tomorrow, it puts me in the right frame of mind going into next week as well (for USPGA Championship)".

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