Recap of the day
More of the same: blustery conditions that made a big number a distinct possibility and yet the course also remained vulnerable to a hot spell. Justin Thomas had a quiet day and a final hole bogey saw him card a 70 for 15-under 201, a number Danny Lee (68) matched with an eagle-3 at the same hole. They hold a three-shot advantage over Cameron Smith (68), and four over Jordan Spieth (70) and Wyndham Clark (67). Byeong Hun An fell back into solo sixth with a 73.
Revised outright betting
Thomas 4/6, Lee 3/1, Smith 9/1, Spieth 14/1, Clark 33/1
Sunday weather forecast
The wind is forecast to remain a blustery 11mph, but will be in an ENE direction rather than N. Otherwise, more of the same. Partly cloudy, temperatures in the mid-60s and humidity in the mid-70s.
Leaders after at 54 holes
Justin Thomas (70, 201) – Missed just the two greens in regulation, but was bemoaning his putting afterward, noting that he burned a lot of edges. Bogey-6 at the last hurt (and the second time he’s done that this week).
Danny Lee (68, 201) – Responded to a double bogey-6 at the tenth in style and his eagle-3 at the last completed a three-shot swing. Ranks second in the field for Scrambling.
Cameron Smith (68, 204) – Ignored a double bogey-7 at the ninth to give himself an outside shot at the title. Ranks fifth for Putts per GIR (1.667).
Wyndham Clark (67, 205) – Started with a bogey at the first, notched two quick birdies and then ticked four in five around the turn.
Jordan Spieth (70, 205) – Leads the field for Putts per GIR (1.610) but is T71 for hitting fairways (25-of-42) and T28 for Greens in Regulation (41-of-54).
Fate of the Favourites
Justin Thomas – see above
Brooks Koepka – withdrew after slipping on wet concrete before he teed off, aggravating an already injured left knee.
Hideki Matsuyama (69, 208) – Continues to hit plenty of greens (ranking ninth with 44-of-54) but needs 1.773 putts when he does (ranking 29th).
Tommy Fleetwood (71, 212) – Still struggling on the greens, ranking 74th (of 76) in the field for Putts per GIR (1.956), and he also made two bogey-6s on the front nine.
Justin Thomas (70) – “Well, it's not too frustrating since I'm tied for the lead. It would be one thing if I lost six or seven shots today, but I feel pretty comfortable when I have a chance to win the tournament.”
Danny Lee (68) – “It was a difficult round. Definitely more windy than yesterday or the day before. So the scores were not quite as low. But I think I played well.”
Cameron Smith (68) – “I thought it was harder today with the wind. I saw a few guys went low. It's a gettable course if you get the putter rolling. The fairways are quite generous and if you're on with your irons, you've definitely got a lot of birdie chances.”
Jordan Spieth (70) – “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 and he's probably gained 10 strokes on me on just the iron play this week. That's been my sloppiness this week. With not much wind forecasted, I think he'll be tough to catch.”
Wyndham Clark (67) – “I felt pretty comfortable out there even though it was really windy. It had a chance to be a really good round, but missed a couple of putts coming down the stretch. It was a good day and I like where I'm at right now.”
Brooks Koepka in a statement – “After consulting with my doctor, I have decided to withdraw from the CJ Cup and head home for further tests. I appreciate everyone's concerns and support. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.”
Road to victory at The Club at Nine Bridges
2018/19 Brooks Koepka – R1: 11th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2017/18 Justin Thomas – R1: 1st, R2: 4th, R3: 1st
Notes: Yesterday we noted that the halfway leaders fell away in very similar fashion. As you’ll see below, the two eventual winners were in pole position at this stage but conditions determined that they’d have a very different final day.
Fate of the 54-hole leaders at THE CJ CUP – where did they finish?
2018 /19 Brooks Koepka 1st
Notes: Koepka was four swings clear at this stage and confirmed the dominant win with a final lap 64. Thomas needed only a 72 to see off the opposition in tough conditions.
Focus on – Justin Thomas
The World No. 5 leads the field in par-4 scoring this week and together with Lee he broke the 54-hole scoring record in the tournament. His lead was four at multiple stages in the third round, but he now shares top spot. He has converted seven of ten 54-hole leads on the PGA Tour and is seeking a fourth Asian win in his ninth start on the continent.
Focus on – Danny Lee
The 29-year-old started the 54th hole three swings back of Thomas before enacting that turnaround. He needed just the 26 putts in round three as he seeks a second PGA Tour win. He has experience of only one previous 54-hole lead on this stage, in the 2016 WM Phoenix Open – he ended Sunday tied for fourth.