Justin Thomas shares lead, Jordan Spieth hunting Presidents Cup pick at CJ Cup

October 19, 2019
Justin Thomas shares the lead with Danny Lee at the CJ Cup.

Heading to the final hole on Saturday at the CJ Cup, Justin Thomas owned a three-shot lead. But he’s heading to Sunday’s final round tied with Danny Lee after No. 18 at Nine Bridges shook up the entire leaderboard. Here’s everything you need to know from the third day of the CJ Cup.

THE LEADERS: Thomas, Lee tied up top

Thomas held the lead going into Saturday’s round, and he held command of that top spot for much of the day. But on the risk-reward par-5 18th, he stumbled to a bogey while Danny Lee poured in a long, winding putt for eagle. “Frankly I wasn’t aiming for the hole. I was just trying to get the ball to roll down the slope as slowly as possible but it kept going,” he said.

The three-stroke swing left Lee in a tie for the lead alongside Thomas at 15 under. “Obviously Danny’s playing well, a lot of guys are playing well, so I need to go out and play well tomorrow,” Thomas said. He has a way of making things sound particularly simple. “I just need to keep doing what I’ve done the last couple days and just get a little bit more out of it.”

THE CHASERS: Smith, Spieth, Clark in hot pursuit

The player under the most scrutiny Saturday was likely Jordan Spieth, whose struggles on Saturdays and Sundays have been exhaustively documented. That unfortunate trend looked likely to continue with a bogey-bogey start. But then Spieth righted the ship, making five birdies against just one bogey the rest of the way to post a two-under 70. He sits at 11 under, four shots back, his outside hopes for a win (and a strong case for a Presidents Cup pick) still alive.

“I mean, I think it would take something special and JT would probably have to have an off putting day, but he’s striping his irons right now,” Spieth said, lamenting his own iron play by comparison. “With not much wind forecasted, I think he’ll be tough to catch.”

But he’s not the only one who will be trying. Cameron Smith, seeking his first Tour top-10 since WGC-Mexico, is one shot closer to the lead at 12-under. Wyndham Clark is tied with Spieth at 11-under after a 67. And Ben An sits one shot further back at 10 under after making two 7s on the back nine en route to a 73.

SHOT OF THE DAY

That would be Danny Lee’s rollercoaster putt for eagle at 18, cementing that three-stroke swing and massively improving his chances come Sunday. Check this out:

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The way I’m swinging it right now, I’m ready to go out and just start hunting again.”
That comes courtesy of Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who is clearly feeling good with a club in his hands. He has thrown down rounds of 69-69-69 and is nicely situated for a Sunday run from T7.

NOTES FROM SATURDAY

Brooks Koepka withdrew from the event after aggravating a knee injury…Viktor Hovland’s record-breaking streak of consecutive rounds in the 60s finally came to a close with a third-round 75…Gary Woodland and Collin Morikawa shot matching 65s to charge from two to nine-under, just six shots back…Matthew Wolff struggled to his second consecutive 78 and sits in last place.

CJ CUP SUNDAY TEE TIMES

Final-round play at the CJ Cup will begin at 7:45 a.m. local time, which is 6:45 p.m. ET for viewers in the U.S. The final group of Thomas, Lee and Smith tees off at 8:45 p.m. ET.