After Friday’s second round of the Tour Championship, it looked like the race for the FedEx Cup’s epic $15 million bonus was down to two players: Patrick Cantlay and Jon Rahm. Rahm had clawed to within one shot of Cantlay’s lead by firing a second-straight 65, and five shots separated Cantlay from the player in solo third, Bryson DeChambeau.
Oh, what a difference a day makes.
A front-nine 38 booted DeChambeau five places down the leaderboard. Two birdies late on the back nine brought him back to nine under overall — good enough for T7, but at 11 shots back, he’s likely too far behind to mount a serious threat for the title on Sunday.
Instead, Justin Thomas, who won the FedEx Cup back in 2017, picked up the mantle, firing a round of five-under 65, which tied the low round of the day. Thomas played essentially perfect golf for 17 holes Saturday, carding six birdies — including three in a row on Nos. 12-14. His lone bogey was a head-scratching three-putt from 34 feet on the 18th hole.
Nonetheless, Thomas is still in the mix for the FedEx Cup’s grand prize, only three shots behind Rahm, and five behind Cantlay.
“I gained some shots on the leaders today, and that’s what’s most important,” Thomas said after his round. I don’t feel like [Cantlay and Rahm] have had a bad round yet. They continue to play well. Obviously I can’t bank on them having a bad day. I just have to keep plugging along and doing my job.”
While Cantlay made three birdies on the front nine to extend his lead early, his back nine included three birdies and three bogeys, which kept Rahm, who made only one bogey and three birdies in the third round, close.
It wasn’t until the 18th hole that Cantlay made a statement to really separate himself from the pack, draining a 23-foot birdie putt to post a round of 67, bringing him to 20 under overall, and giving him a two-shot cushion over Rahm and five on Thomas.
“I’ll take that momentum into tomorrow,” Cantlay said after his round.
While Thomas has an outside chance of contending for the top prize if he goes super low on Sunday, Rahm feels it’s going to come down to a battle between himself and Cantlay.
“J.T. had a good round today, but if we keep playing the way we have, unless somebody posts a really low score out there, hopefully it will be a good show down on the back nine with me and Patrick,” he said after his round. “Hopefully, I come in with my A Game and guns blazing.”