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Video: Justin Thomas eagles 16 as he shoots 61 at BMW Championship

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MEDINAH, Ill. – Justin Thomas tied the course record in Thursday’s first round of the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club.

He went four better and set the course record in Saturday’s third round.

After opening with five consecutive birdies, Thomas did his best work on the back nine of the No. 3 course at Medinah. He made eagles on the 10th – from 3 feet after a 5-wood from 260 yards – and the 16th – he holed out from 180 yards – and added birdies on the 14th and 17th to cap an 11-under-par 61 to grab a 6-shot lead through 54 holes at the BMW Championship.

BMW CHAMPIONSHIP: Live Scores | Photos | Prize Money | Tee Times/TV

TIGER UPDATE: Woods’ 67 keeps Tour Championship chances alive

With recent storms severely softening the bite of this usually bully of a course, Thomas turned No. 3 into a dartboard. And he had the putter working as he needed just 22 putts.

“It doesn’t matter what golf course it is. You give us soft good greens and soft fairways, we’re going to tear it apart,” Thomas said.

He didn’t just tear apart No. 3, he shredded it. Playing partner Tony Finau shot 68 and got lapped. A day after Hideki Matsuyama shot a then course-record 63, he shot 73 and is 10 shots back. Tiger Woods shot his best round of the week – a 67 – and is 14 shots behind.

Thomas leads Finau and Patrick Cantlay (68) by six shots as he seeks his first win of the season after winning three times last season and five times the season before when he was the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

“It was obviously a fun day,” Thomas said. “It was just kind of one of those days where you get in a rhythm and zone and I’m trying to make more birdies. I felt good about my game for a while and you don’t know when something like this is going to happen, a round like this. We’ve all been talking the last couple of weeks that I’m due to have one and it’s nice when it happens.

“At the end of the day this round was great and awesome but it’s over with and I need to go focus on tomorrow. I do understand that guys are going to be able to go low, but I need to go out and play my game and play how we’ve been playing the last couple days and last couple weeks and try to shoot another good round.”

The winner of nine PGA Tour titles – including the 2017 PGA Championship – shot 59 in the first round en route to winning the 2017 Sony Open. That’s the same year he won the FedExCup. He also shot 63 in the U.S. Open that year.

Now he’s projected in first place in the FedExCup standings and is in position to join Tiger Woods as the only player to win the FedExCup twice next week in The Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

But Thomas isn’t looking past Sunday’s final round and will have plenty of good vibes to call upon. All week, he said, he’s been in a good place. He even overcame the worst warmup of his career before the first round and shot 65.

A 69 in the second round kept him high on the leaderboard and then he sprinted away with his 61 in the third round.

Thomas was going so good in the third round that even his worst shot of the day – a blocked drive into the trees on the par-4 12th – had a happy result as it bounced off a limb back into the fairway.

“Just one of those days,” he said.

Want another example of how good he was going? When asked what his best shot of the day was, he said the hole out from 180 yards on the 16th – he used an 8-iron – and his tee shot on the par-3 17th, which stopped six feet from the hole to set up his last birdie. That means the pure 5-wood from 260 on the 10th to 3 feet didn’t even get in the top 2.

“I’m lucky, very lucky that I had a few to choose from today,” Thomas said.

After missing three tournaments due to a wrist injury earlier this year, Thomas has been trending in the right direction, with a tie for 11th and two ties for 12th in his last three starts. Along with his coach – his father, Mike – and his caddie – Jimmy Johnson – Thomas has put in the work to turn his season around.

“I’ve been playing well. I’ve been hitting great golf shots. I’ve been making great strides with my putting,” Thomas said. “This game, it’s just so brutal and it’s so humbling that over the course of a career you’ll have so many highs and lows and I’m just trying to take it all in, if you will, and understand that.

“This season has been far from lows. Even when I was hurt I missed three events and my life is great. I knew I was going to come back and if I did everything and got healthy then I could play some good golf the rest of the year.”

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