The American Patrick Cantlay had for the third consecutive day a great duel with the Spanish Jon Rahm in the fight for the title of the Tour Championship tournament, but this time in order not to lose ground in the lead and win a blow that gives him two of advantage. The Chilean Joaquín Niemann had a regular round in the court par, but remains very relegated.
Rahm did not have the inspiration of the first two rounds when he cut three of the four leads that started the Cantlay tournament as the leader of the FedEx Cup classification. Thus, he fell a stroke behind, but kept all options open to win the title and a $ 15 million prize on Sunday.
American Justin Thomas was in charge of delivering the best signed card of the day with 65 (-5) to place himself with 199 strokes and (-15), in this way, ascend to third place with (-15), to five of the (-20) owned by Cantlay and three of Rahm’s (-18).
Cantlay made his last birdie when he least expected it and felt it was worth more than an extra hit.
Holding on to a one-shot lead over Rahm, he went from the right rough to the first of two bunkers in front of the 18th green with the pin hidden behind the second.
Cantlay shot safely from eight meters and had a 67 (-3) lead by two.
“I thought it was a huge boost,” Cantlay said. “It was a good putt to make, especially being out of position on that hole. And I’ll build on that momentum tomorrow,” he added.
The stage was set for a sprint to the FedEx Cup and its $ 15 million prize, with ramifications that could go even further.
For now, he was at 20 under par (200) with a two-shot lead over Rahm (198, -18) who had a record of 68 (-2), and he knows he will have his hands full, with a demanding East Lake course. and face the number one player in the world, who hates losing as much as he does.
Money is a good talking point for Cantlay and Rahm, and even Thomas, who is still in the range of ensuring this isn’t a two-player match.
“I don’t play to make money,” Cantlay said. “I play because I want to win golf tournaments and I love doing it. And I’m in a great place to do it tomorrow.”
Rahm, the US Open champion, was denied what appeared to be a sure victory at the Memorial in early June when he held a six-stroke lead, and then had to retire with a positive test for covid-19.
He was four shots behind with eight holes to play, made just one birdie and still made up ground when Cantlay, who had covered 46 holes with just one bogey, made three bogeys and missed a pair of birdie opportunities over the past nine years, finishing with his big birdie.
“It was one of those days where there were a lot of numbers in between,” Rahm said. “There were a lot of three-quarters and finesse, and on certain holes I played a little more conservative and didn’t give myself the best opportunities to make putts,” he explained.
Thomas, who started the Tour Championship six shots behind due to his FedEx Cup position going into the final, was primed for the week’s low round aiming to get a bit closer, but pulled his tee shot on On par 5 of 18, he went from rough to rough at 11 meters, then made three bogey putts, missing a putt of less than two meters. He finished five behind.
“I can’t count on them having a bad day,” Thomas said. “I just have to go ahead and do my job.”
No one else came closer than seven shots from Cantlay, who started the week 10 under par after his BMW Championship win made him the top seed.
While Mexican Abraham Ancer, although he is far from the fight for the title, completed his best journey with a record of 65 strokes (-5) that allowed him to recover 11 positions to have now 204 (-10) and climb to fifth place which he shares with American Billy Horschel.
The Spanish veteran Sergio García also stood out with his best performance so far this tournament, achieving a record of 66 (-4) to accumulate 204 (-6), climbing six positions and occupying the thirteenth, which he shares with two other players: the American Tony Finau and Australian Cameron Smith.
The young Chilean Joaquín Niemann improved in relation to the two previous days, but did not go beyond par (70) to continue in the penultimate place with accumulated 213 strokes (+2).