Justin Thomas started slow on Friday at the Zozo Championship but his putting on the back nine at Sherwood carried him to the 36-hole lead.
Thomas, after shooting a less-than-spectacular 36 going out, lit up the final nine holes with seven birdies and posted a second straight 65. He’s 14-under and the halfway leader heading into the weekend.
Defending champion Tiger Woods bounced back from a poor start on Thursday to shoot a six-under par 66 but at two-under, he’s 12 back of Thomas and tied for 66th in the 77-player field.
“It’s just I really haven’t played a whole lot,” said Woods, who didn’t speak to anyone after his opening 76. “I tried to keep that open as much as I possibly could throughout this comeback is that I really haven’t played a whole lot and maybe I need a few more rounds, but if I play like I did today, a little different story.”
As for Thomas, his work with putting coach John Graham is showing. “I called Graham on the way home and he said, ‘I’m proud of you, that was a big day,’” Thomas said. “I feel like there’s many, many times when I’ve had a front nine like that in the past where I’m maybe not putting poorly, I’m just making nothing, and then I continue to do that on the back instead of continuing to try to feel like I can make everything and stay in my process and start making some putts.”
Thomas heads for the final two rounds a shot in front of Dylan Fritelli (66-65) and Lanto Griffin (66-65).
Richy Werenski set a tournament record with an 11-under par 61, break the 62 set by Woods during the Hero World Challenge days at Sherwood. Werenski is at 11-under along with seven others including Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed, both shot 63s.
The weather has been perfect and the pace is torrid.
How low will they go?