Rory McIlroy bounced back on moving day at the ZOZO Championship as he rattled off seven birdies to card a five-under-par 67 despite a double bogey at his ninth.
McIlroy will no doubt look to go even lower on Sunday as he searches for some consistency ahead of the year’s final Major in just over two week’s time.
At the top, Jon Rahm set Sherwood alight with a sizzling bogey-free 9-under 63 to move to 18-under. Thomas settled for a 5-under 67 with birdies on the 16th and 17th holes ensuring he wrestled the lead away at 19-under. Thomas found a way to score despite some inaccuracy off the tee and into the greens.
“It was a good fight, hung in there well. I felt like I definitely didn’t play as well as I did the first two days or didn’t have my best stuff by any means, but to shoot a round like that is huge on a course like this,” the former FedEx Cup champion said.
Spaniard Rahm hit every fairway on the round and needed just 25 putts. It was a welcome change from the opening two rounds where he needed 30 putts each day and lost strokes to the field. Well, the opening round and a half to be fair.
Rahm was five under on his final eight holes on Friday meaning he’s 14 under over his last 26. On Saturday, he was five under on his round through as many holes after three birdies and an eagle and turned in 30 before making three more on the back side.
“They started going in, that’s it. If we count Vegas, the last five and a half rounds my putter was absolutely cold, didn’t make anything at all,” Rahm said. “It was that 20‑footer for eagle on 11 (Friday) that I made that just kind of freed me up a little bit, and I made a couple more putts. Then today… one dropped and it’s like OK, it’s possible to make putts and just keep going.”
Now the pair shake out as the most likely to be crowned champion, but both know it won’t be a simple scenario. Birdies rain down at Sherwood like arrows in a Robin Hood movie so these two aggressive players will not die wondering.
Plus there are plenty of players behind them who feel they have nothing to lose so they’ll be taking aim at each bullseye. Lanto Griffin sits 17-under while Patrick Cantlay, Ryan Palmer, and Sebastian Munoz are just three off the lead at 16-under. Six players – Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Brian Harman, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Scottie Scheffler and Dylan Frittelli – all share seventh just four off the pace.