Justin Thomas rebounds, grabs share of the lead through 54 holes in the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges
Most weeks, following up a nine-under 63 with two rounds in the 70s would send a tour pro way down the leader board on the PGA Tour, giving them a deficit many wouldn't be able to recover from. For Justin Thomas, a 74 and Saturday's two-under 70 has been more than enough regain a share of the lead at nine-under 207 in the windy conditions at Nine Bridges Golf Club in Jeju Island, South Korea. It was so difficult in fact, that the FedEx Cup champion even impressed himself with Saturday's performance.
"You can't put it into words, but I know for a fact I played better today than I did on Thursday when I shot nine under," Thomas said. "It's just so hard out here, I've never played a place where the wind swirls as much as it does here."
Despite that, Thomas still hit 12 of 18 greens, 11 of 14 fairways and needed just 28 putts on the challenging putting surfaces at Nine Bridges. His round began with a birdie and six pars, before making a costly double-bogey 6 at the par-4 eighth. Thomas rebounded, going two under on his final 10 holes to take back his Thursday lead.
"I knew that I would have to stay patient, and I did," he said. "Today was a round I felt like I had at the end of the year, where I felt really like I was playing my best."
If he's able to find his best on Sunday, that gives the rest of the field an uphill battle to climb. A win would make it seven in Thomas' nascent career, all coming within the last two years.
Also at nine under is Scott Brown, who carded a one-under 71 with three birdies and two bogeys. It's his third-straight start of the 2017-'18 season, already having registered a top-25 in the CIMB Classic. Brown is looking to win for the second time in his PGA Tour career, the first coming at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open.
Two back at seven-under 209 are Presidents Cup teammates Anirban Lahiri and Marc Leishman. Lahiri's three-under 69 was one of the strongest rounds of the day, while Leishman's one-under 71 gives him three consecutive rounds of even par or better. They'll play together in the penultimate group on Sunday in South Korea, with India's Lahiri hoping to break through for his first career victory and Australia's Leishman looking to notch his fourth.
Cameron Smith, Lucas Glover and South Korea's Whee Kim sit three back in a tie for fifth at six-under 210.
The round of the day belonged to another South Korean, Byeong Hun An, who shot a five-under 67 that has him just four back at five-under 211. He's joined by 36-hole leader Luke List, who struggled on Saturday, posting a four-over 76.
Six players are at four-under 212, including Kyle Stanley, Brian Harman and Paul Casey.
World No. 9 Jason Day is at three-under 216, six shots behind Thomas.