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Justin Thomas set a new course record in the third round as he stormed to the top of the BMW Championship leaderboard.

Thomas carded an 11-under-par 61 to shatter the record at Medinah Country Club for a commanding six-stroke lead on Saturday.

Hideki Matsuyama had set the record on Friday, but his feat was eclipsed by 2017 FedEx Cup champion Thomas – who stole the show with two eagles and eight birdies.

Thomas birdied his opening five holes and had six through his first eight, before adding another two and a pair of eagles on the back nine.

The American is set to move top of the FedEx Cup standings as things stand, with Thomas 21 under after three rounds – ahead of Tony Finau (68) and Patrick Cantlay (68).

"I just hope the trend doesn't [continue] and someone else breaks [the course record] tomorrow," he said after his stellar round.

"It's just one of those freaky days where you get in the zone. I hit the ball pretty unbelievable. I didn't really — it's not like I made any long putts, I just hit it close to the hole and took advantage of some opportunities when I had them and got a couple good breaks."

Rory Sabbatini posted a five-under-par 67 to be fourth and seven shots adrift, while Jon Rahm (66) is a stroke further back heading into Sunday's decider.

Brandt Snedeker (67) highlights a trio of golfers tied for sixth (12 under) and Rickie Fowler (68), Kevin Kisner (69), Xander Schauffele (70) and Matsuyama (73) all sit ninth.

Former world number one and 2012 champion Rory McIlroy is 11 shots behind Thomas following his third-round 70, while Tiger Woods is three shots back.

Two-time FedEx Cup champion Woods climbed the leaderboard thanks a to a bogey-free 67, which left him in a tie for 31st.

Only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will advance to the Tour Championship and Woods – who is the defending champion – is projected to finish 40th.

Tiger Woods needed a low number, and he got it during the third round of the BMW Championship thanks to a five-under-par 67.

After Woods, a two-time FedEx Cup champion, shot 71 in each of the first two rounds of the tournament, he was languishing towards the bottom of the pack.

At a time of the year when FedEx Cup points can make or break a season, Woods was in need of an improved performance on Saturday.

And at Medinah Course number three, Woods was finally able to put together a bogey-free round highlighted by five birdies.

Woods was hitting the ball as well as he could have, recording his ninth career bogey-free round in the FedExCup Play-offs.

Thomas Pieters will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Czech Masters after a blistering Saturday front nine in Prague.

The 2016 Ryder Cup player, who won this event in 2015, overhauled overnight leader Edoardo Molinari with a fine 66 to move to 16 under overall.

A run of four birdies in a row saw him walk off the seventh green with the outright lead and things got even better before the turn.

Despite missing a putt to extend his streak on eight, a superb second shot allowed the Belgian to tap in an eagle three at the ninth.

And he finished in style too, profiting from a sublime approach to close with another gain to move six under for the day, a stroke clear of Adri Arnaus, who went one better than him with a 65 on Saturday.

"I think the key to that front nine was the driving," Thomas told the European Tour website.

"I hit it really far and straight so that was presenting a lot of birdie opportunities and a lot of short clubs into the holes. 

"To convert the putt on nine after a wonderful six iron in was great, and it's the closest I've come to a two on a par five."

Molinari is one of four players tied for third on 14 under alongside Hugo Leon and Swedish duo Robert Karlsson and Rikard Karlberg.

Hideki Matsuyama broke a course record as he claimed a one-stroke lead after the second round at the BMW Championship.

Matsuyama sizzled at Medinah Country Club, where the Japanese carded a nine-under-par 63 to top the leaderboard on Friday.

In the second tournament of the FedEx Cup play-offs, Matsuyama was flawless with his putter – nine birdies highlighting a bogey-free round in Illinois.

Matsuyama birdied five of his opening nine holes and closed the day by gaining back-to-back shots as he improved to 12 under at the halfway stage, ahead of American pair Patrick Cantlay (67) and Tony Finau (66).

Ranked 33rd prior to the event, Matsuyama is projected to move up to second with victory and he said: "I wish I knew why I putted so well today.

"But I was happy that a lot of them went in. As they went in, you start gaining more confidence and as your confidence builds, more putts go in, too."

This was just Matsuyama's day and a statement after Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak tied the course record of 65 in the opening round.

Thomas followed up his course-record performance with a solid 69 to be 10 under through two rounds, while Kokrak (73) dropped into a tie for 21st at six under.

Former world number one and 2012 champion Rory McIlroy posted a second-round 67 as he improved 14 positions to 11th, alongside Kevin Tway (67), Tommy Fleetwood (66) and Kevin Kisner (68) at eight under.

Four-time major winner and US PGA Championship holder Brooks Koepka is seven shots off the pace following his 71, and he is joined by Northern Trust champion Patrick Reed (71).

Star names Jordan Spieth (71), Jason Day (71) and Justin Rose (73) are tied for 40th at three under, a shot better off than Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson.

Woods – a two-time BMW Championship winner – is in serious danger of missing the trip to the Tour Championship after carding back-to-back 71s.

Only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will qualify and Woods is projected to finish 45th.

Edoardo Molinari led a European Tour event through 36 holes for the first time in his career after another bogey-free 66 at the Czech Masters.

Molinari, the brother of 2018 Open Championship winner Francesco, has three European Tour titles to his name but had never previously sat atop a leaderboard at the halfway stage.

However, the Italian's consistency in Prague saw him rewarded with a two-stroke lead heading into the weekend.

Molinari had a share of fourth after Thursday, having carded six birdies and no dropped shots, and he matched that display on Friday to move to 12 under.

Having had to work to regain his card in 2015 and 2016, Molinari reflected on a promising start this week, saying: "At the moment I'm very comfortable, I'm enjoying playing golf.

"I've been going through a tough few years so, at the minute, I'm just really enjoying myself on the golf course. I'm playing well so life is good at the minute."

It was Thomas Pieters, the 2015 winner, who represented Molinari's nearest rival at the end of the second round, sitting on 10 under after his bogey-free 67.

Four players were tied in third on nine under: Matthias Schwab, Sam Horsfield, Hugo Leon and Robert Karlsson.

Defending champion Andrea Pavan was among a clutch of players on eight under.

Malaysian Gavin Green, who led through 18 holes, having done likewise and finished third in the tournament a year ago, fell away spectacularly this time. He carded a three-over 75 and dropped to a share of 33rd place.

Justin Thomas carded an impressive seven-under 65 to take a share of the lead after the opening round of the BMW Championship on Thursday.

The 2017 US PGA Championship winner is atop the leaderboard alongside fellow American Jason Kokrak at Medinah Country Club, where the pair equalled the course record.

Thomas finished his day with seven birdies and no bogeys, while Kokrak dropped just one shot but added an eagle to finish his day in a tie for the lead.

A wrist injury saw Thomas struggle earlier this season, including missing the cut at the U.S. Open.

But he has been good as of late as he finished tied for 11th at The Open and in the top 12 or better in each of his past four tournaments.

"It's weird," he said, via the Golf Channel. "Yeah, I mean, it's been an odd season just because I've missed three tournaments. But the difference with this season and any other season is I'd won.

"I'm playing every bit as good as I have any other year this year, for sure."

Thomas is sitting pretty in getting to the Tour Championship at East Lake next week, starting 15th in the FedEx Cup standings and now projected to be top.

Kokrak needs a good performance after starting 32nd – with the top 30 progressing – and is now projected to be third.

A shot back of the leaders is a group of five – Jim Furyk, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker and Patrick Cantlay.

World number one Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Jon Rahm all opened with four-under 68s, a shot better than Rory McIlroy.

Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods need to climb the leaderboard to reach the Tour Championship.

Spieth carded a two-under 70, while Woods opened with a 71, the duo projected to be outside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup as things stand.

Gavin Green was once again quick out of the blocks at the Czech Masters after signing for an opening 64 at the Albatross Golf Resort.

The world number 215 sat in a four-way tie for top spot following the first day of the 2018 edition of the tournament, though he eventually had to settle for finishing third.

However, Green boosted his hopes of improving on that position this time around with an eight-under round on Thursday – the same score as he managed a year ago.

"I don't know what it is about this place. I think the course suits me well and it helps if you hit it a little longer and a little higher," he told the European Tour website.

"It helps to be able to stop the ball on the greens. If you get a good drive away you just have a wedge in your hand and you can take advantage of that."

The Malaysian sits on his own at the summit this time, leading by one shot from Lee Slattery and Erik Van Rooyen, who set the early pace with his seven-under 65.

Lee Westwood struggled, however, carding a one-over par 73, while Padraig Harrington - runner-up 12 months ago - also finished on the same score.

Three-time European Tour winner Edoardo Molinari enjoyed a better day, ending in a tie for fourth after a six-under round of 66.

Reigning champion Andrea Pavan hit four birdies to sign for a blemish-free 68, two ahead of Thomas Bjorn, who played one of the shots of the day with a chip from the fringe of the green on the 14th.

Tiger Woods says he played "quite well" after coming through nine holes unscathed at Medinah on the eve of the BMW Championship as he eyes an East Lake return.

The 15-time major champion withdrew from the Northern Trust last week after being troubled by a mild oblique strain during his first round.

Woods feels in better shape as he bids to move up from 38th on the FedExCup points list to inside the top 30, which would give him the opportunity to defend his Tour Championship title next week.

Asked about his condition, the Masters champion said: "Way better. It was nice to take those days off. I had to just let it calm down and get a bunch of treatment on it. I played nine today, the front nine and quite well. 

"I took the back nine off, chipped and putted quite a bit and it definitely didn't feel like it did on Friday.

"Like I've said before, the forces have got to go somewhere. Unfortunately, when I'm making the kind of tweaks and changes to my swing, it's like a new body part is aching. I can't play around with the back like I used to, and things flare up.

"I've had to make tweaks all year trying to ease the stress of my back while still playing and unfortunately I haven't done a very good job of that and when I have, I've hit the ball quite well.

"I was really excited about what I was doing at Liberty [National], I made some nice changes and obviously I didn't feel very well on Thursday."

Woods is determined to ensure he does not miss out on the season-ending tournament in Atlanta, where he ended a five-year title drought 12 months ago.

"Trying to be explosive, have enough rest time and training time – that has been the biggest challenge," he added.

"This is no different. I am trying to win this tournament, just like anybody else in this field, and I'm trying to get to East Lake and get to the place where a lot of things changed for me last year - hopefully I can make that happen."

Bryson DeChambeau insists he is trying to improve the pace of his play and is determined to be "part of the solution" after criticism at the Northern Trust.

Numerous clips shared on social media last week showed DeChambeau taking several minutes to line up shots in New Jersey, with playing partners Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood apparently disinterested.

The video footage prompted outrage from many fans and fellow professionals, with Eddie Pepperell calling DeChambeau a "single-minded twit" - comments he would later apologise for.

DeChambeau initially stated such criticism was unfair and suggested the caddies were largely to blame for the pace of the game.

But the 25-year-old was more apologetic as he posted on Instagram and insisted: "I will do my very best to improve my pace.

"Slow play affects the quality of the game for both players and our fans and I've always had the utmost respect for my playing partners, including JT and Tommy," he wrote.

"I'm constantly trying to improve and I will do my very best to improve my pace. Golf is my passion and livelihood. It's my responsibility to help improve the game to be more enjoyable for all.

"Pace of play has been an issue for golf at all levels for a long time, and I'm committed to being a part of the solution, not the problem.

"I want to be a good representative of the game and the @PGATour and I looking forward to working with the TOUR and fellow players to find a solution to slow play."

Following last week's tournament, the PGA Tour confirmed it would review its pace-of-play guidelines.

Eddie Pepperell has apologised for calling Bryson DeChambeau a "single minded twit" on social media after the American was criticised over his slow play at the Northern Trust.

DeChambeau took over two minutes to play both a 70-yard pitch and a putt from inside 10 feet, which he missed, during his second round at Liberty National in New Jersey on Friday.

Pepperell was among the professionals to criticise the world number eight, who kept playing partners Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Thomas waiting as he lined up his putt.

The Englishman tweeted: "Just look at Tommy and Justin, both looking completely bored. Slow players do this to their playing partners making the game less enjoyable. Problem is, the unaffected single minded twit in this instance, doesn't care much for others."

DeChambeau defended his approach in response to the backlash, stating he has been unfairly targeted.

The PGA Tour confirmed they will review their policy on the pace of play but Pepperell has admitted he crossed the line.

He tweeted on Monday: "Seems my comment regarding Bryson's slow play has garnered plenty of attention and I just want to sincerely apologise to Bryson for being personal and referring to him as a 'twit'. That was unnecessary and something I shouldn't have said."

Jason Day is searching for a new caddie after he elected to part company with Steve Williams.

Regarded as the world's most successful caddie, Williams has worked alongside the likes of Peter Thomson, Greg Norman and Tiger Woods - whose bag he was on for 13 major victories between 1999 and 2011.

Williams had caddied for Day in six tournaments since June's US Open, with the former world number one missing the cut in two of them, including the Open Championship, and securing just one top-10 result.

Day has now decided to end his spell with the 55-year-old, a decision he says was not taken lightly.

"Parting with Steve was a mutual decision and not an easy one to make," Day told AAP.

"He is the ultimate pro; it was a real learning experience being exposed to a caddie who has achieved what Steve has. He has worked with the best."

Day, whose preference to use analytical data seemingly clashed with Williams' more traditional approach, added: "It was a disconnect of old school and new school.

"Steve has become a friend and I have a lot of respect for him. I thank Steve for everything he taught me."

David Lutterus will caddie for Day at the upcoming BMW Championship. The Australian is 50th on the FedEx Cup standings and will need a strong result in order to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.

Williams was previously reported to have been the highest-paid sportsperson in New Zealand when he was carrying Woods' bag.

The PGA Tour has confirmed they will review their policy on the pace of play following criticism of Bryson DeChambeau at The Northern Trust.

DeChambeau was roundly criticised by fans and players alike for taking more than two minutes to play both a 70-yard pitch and a putt from inside 10 feet, which he missed.

Clips were shared on social media emphasising the American's slow play at Liberty National in New Jersey, with Ian Poulter, Rich Beem and Eddie Pepperell joining fans in denouncing DeChambeau's speed.

Justin Thomas - one of DeChambeau's playing partners on Friday - said after the round: "The slow people know who they are, and they just need to play faster."

The PGA Tour has now responded, confirming they are to review their guidelines.

Their current pace-of-play policy only addresses players whose groups have fallen out of position, but the PGA Tour will now assess whether to expand the regulations to encompass players whose groups are in position. 

"We know that the individual habits of players when they are preparing to hit a shot can quickly become a focal point in today's world, and our players and fans are very passionate about this issue," said Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour's chief of operations.

"We have leveraged our ShotLink technology to provide every player with a pace-of-play report that they can access which breaks down the varying parts of their game and gives feedback on the amount of time on average that the player takes to hit a particular shot.

"We are currently in the process of reviewing this aspect of pace of play and asking ourselves is there a better way to do it?

"We think technology definitely plays a key role in all of this and we are thinking about new and innovative ways to use it to address these situations."

When asked about his slow play, DeChambeau claimed it was down to caddies and other players, adding he felt attacked by the responses on social media.

"A lot of it [slow play] is [down to] the caddies. A lot of it is the other players," DeChambeau said. "They don't care about walking fast. I play a different way out there.

"I take my 40 seconds that's allotted, sometimes over, absolutely. Totally agree. It's maybe five per cent of the time.

"But I'll tell you that it's really kind of unfortunate the way it's perceived because there's a lot of other guys that take a lot of time. They don't talk about this matter and for me, personally, it is an attack and it is something that is not me whatsoever."

Patrick Reed secured his first victory since last year's Masters, winning the Northern Trust by one stroke on Sunday.

Reed completed a consistent showing at the opening event of the FedEx Cup play-offs with a two-under 69 in the final round at Liberty National Golf Club.

The American finished at 16 under, a shot ahead of Abraham Ancer (69), to win the tournament for the second time.

It marked Reed's seventh win on the PGA Tour and first since his only major success at Augusta last year.

He moved into second, behind Brooks Koepka, in the projected FedEx Cup standings.

Ancer had a few hiccups on his front nine with bogeys on the fourth and sixth holes but finished with four birdies for the day. 

Harold Varner III continued his climb up the leaderboard to tie for third place at 14 under with Jon Rahm, who once had control of the leaderboard through his final round.

The Spaniard got through the front nine with three birdies but after the turn, he found trouble and had three bogeys on five holes to finish with a 69.

Adam Scott rounded out the top five at 13 under by executing an impressive round that was highlighted by seven birdies.

Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen and Brandt Snedeker tied for sixth place at 12 under, while Ian Poulter and Justin Rose finished in a tie for 10th a shot further back.

The play-offs will continue with the BMW Championship beginning on Thursday.

Bryson DeChambeau believes he has been an unfair target of criticism for slow play at The Northern Trust, with the world number eight vehemently defending himself after being widely rebuked by fans and players alike.

Clips were shared on social media showing the American taking more than two minutes to play both a 70-yard pitch and a putt from inside 10 feet, which he missed, at Liberty National in New Jersey.

A number of fans were quick to show their disapproval on Twitter, and the likes of Ian Poulter, Rich Beem and Eddie Pepperell joined the dissenting voices, the latter labelling DeChambeau a "single-minded twit".

Justin Thomas - one of DeChambeau's playing partners on Friday - said after the round: "The slow people know who they are, and they just need to play faster."

However, after posting a third-round 71 on Saturday, DeChambeau addressed the issue and defended the way he plays the game. 

"A lot of it [slow play] is [down to] the caddies. A lot of it is the other players," DeChambeau said. "They don't care about walking fast. I play a different way out there.

"I take my 40 seconds that's allotted, sometimes over, absolutely. Totally agree. It's maybe five per cent of the time.

"But I'll tell you that it's really kind of unfortunate the way it's perceived because there's a lot of other guys that take a lot of time. They don't talk about this matter and for me, personally, it is an attack and it is something that is not me whatsoever.

"People don't realise the harm they are doing to the individuals."

Discussing the fellow professionals who criticised him on Twitter, DeChambeau added: "Look, they are great individuals. I'm not going to say anything bad about them.

"My competitors here on tour, they have all been nice to me and I don't have any issues with any of them.

"We are all trying to do our best to play well and make our livelihoods and win tournaments, right. But when you start personally attacking people on Twitter, it's like, come on, dude. Let's have some more, I was going to say something else, but let's have some more balls ... speak to me to my face about that.

"When people start talking to me about slow play and how I'm killing the game, I'm doing this and that to the game, that is complete and utter you-know-what. That's not fair."

Patrick Reed edged into a one-stroke lead at the Northern Trust as Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth struggled during the third round on Saturday.

Reed and Abraham Ancer battled it out for top spot in the final holes of the round at Liberty National Golf Club.

The two traded places until Reed took the outright lead, moving to 14 under at the opening FedEx Cup play-offs event.

The American used five birdies to help counter a bogey on the par-four 15th hole and carded a four-under 67 on Saturday. It was one stroke off the 66s he carded in both the first and second rounds, but it was enough to gain some ground on Ancer and the rest of the field.

Ancer also had a few hiccups with bogeys on both the front and back nines, including the par-four 16th hole, as he carded a 68.

Johnson and Spieth were the top two overnight, but they fell back after shooting three-over 74s.

World number two Johnson is at nine under in a tie for 10th after carding four bogeys on his last six holes to be just one shot ahead of Spieth.

Brandt Snedeker fired the best round of the day – an eight-under 63 – to move into a tie for third place at 12 under with Jon Rahm (69).

Danny Willett, Justin Rose and Harold Varner III are tied for fifth at 11 under, while Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy make up a tie for eighth a shot further back.

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