Justin Thomas tees off on the ninth hole as third round play continues during the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles.

(AP Photo/Ryan Kang)

Justin Thomas Opens Up A 4-Shot Lead At Riviera

The start of the tournament was delayed seven hours by rain Thursday, throwing the schedule out of whack for 2½ days.

February 17, 2019 - 2:34 pm

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Thomas, playing so well that even a shank turned into a par, finished off his third round Sunday morning with a 6-under 65 to build a four-shot lead over Adam Scott and J.B. Holmes going straight into the final round of the Genesis Open.

The tournament, delayed seven hours by rain Thursday, finally had some semblance of a normal schedule with yet another twist. Right when Thomas headed to the first tee for the final round, light rain replaced a blue sky and the wind began to gust.

He had least gave himself a cushion.

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Thomas made two short birdie putts to get some separation, and then showed how well his week at Riviera was going on No. 9. From the middle of the fairway, he hit a shank that wound up in the 10th fairway. He hit wedge to 3 feet for par, and then followed with two more birdies to start pulling away.

Thomas led by as many as five shots at one point and completed 54 holes in 17-under 196.

Scott (69) and Holmes (68) played alongside him. The groups remained the same for the final round.

Tiger Woods, who began the third round with three birdies and an eagle for his hottest start in nearly 10 years, returned to save par on the 17th and brought some morning roars back to Riviera with a shot over the bunker to 10 feet for eagle on No. 1. That was the last of his big move, however, and he had to settle for a 65 to remain 10 shots behind.

Riviera is the PGA Tour course Woods has played the most times — this is his 10th appearance as a pro — without winning. Sunday morning was only the third time he had posted a score of 65 or lower.

Thomas had a one-shot lead over Scott after two holes of the third round when they returned to a clear sky and temperatures in the 40s. Thomas made a 3-foot birdie on the par-3 sixth hole, and holed a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 7 as Scott missed the green to the right and failed to save par. That gave Thomas a three-shot lead, and he never made enough mistakes for anyone to draw closer.

The increasing wind might be good news for Lanny Wadkins, whose 20-under 264 at Riviera in 1985 is the oldest 72-hole record on the PGA Tour for tournaments held at the same course.

Dustin Johnson had a chance to break it two years ago in another marathon finish brought on by rain, but he built such a big lead that he played it safe after reaching 20 under with 12 holes to go and dropped three shots coming in.

Thomas would need a 67 in the final round to break the record.


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