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Thomas pulls away from BMW field with 61

By DOUG FERGUSON

AP Golf Writer

MEDINAH, Ill. — Winless over the last 12 months, Justin Thomas knew he was playing well and he was due for a low round.

Saturday at the BMW Championship was more than he might have imagined.

Thomas smashed the course record at Medinah with an 11-under 61 that gave him a six-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau.

He opened with five birdies, and none was worthy of a highlight reel because of what followed. He hit a 5-wood from 260 yards on the par-5 10th that was so pure he twirled his club and watched it roll out to 2 feet.

That wasn’t among the top three memories Saturday.

“I’m very lucky that I had a couple to choose from today,” Thomas said.

In fluffy grass behind the 14th green, he chipped in for birdie. From 180 yards in the 16th fairway, he holed out for eagle.

His felt his best shot was the next hole, a 9-iron from forward tees to a front pin over the water to 6 feet for his eighth birdie of a remarkable round.

“It was easy to get pretty wrapped up in the emotions and get the adrenaline going and I had to take a little bit off that 9-iron,” Thomas said. “If I’m trying to be perfect there and I don’t hit it right, that very easily could go in the water.”

Thomas was at 21-under 195, with Finau (68) and Cantlay (67) chasing him.

He has a clear path to his first victory since the Bridgestone Invitational last August, along with the lead going into the Tour Championship next week and the chase for a $15 million prize.

The goal for Tiger Woods is simply to get to the Tour Championship, where last year he ended five years without winning.

Woods had a bogey-free 67, his lowest score since the final round of the Memorial.