After finishing the front nine of Quail Hollow Club with a 30, Justin Thomas had thoughts of a sub-60 round in his head.
“I would be lying if I said it didn’t” come to mind, he said. “I was rolling pretty good.”
Thomas had to settle for a 7-under-par 65 Saturday at the Wells Fargo Championship, and he’s tied for sixth at 9-under for the tournament.
Thomas, who last week was tied for fifth at the Players Championship at the start of the final day, needed only 12 strokes for holes 4-7, going birdie-eagle-birdie-eagle and make early moves up the leaderboard.
He sandwiched a bogey at 11 between two birdies and expressed regret after his round about his putting.
“Hit some good puts on 14 and 16 that I just misread and had the wrong spots,” said Thomas, who made par on both holes, “and obviously 18 was pretty terrible.”
Thomas three-putted on the final hole and carded a bogey. He’s one stroke behind his roommate, Patrick Rodgers, and the two will play together Sunday.
“Didn’t really like seeing him kicking my butt like that so I was trying to get back up there,” Thomas said.
▪ If Phil Mickelson continues his non-winning streak at Quail Hollow this week, he’ll probably have the 18th hole Saturday to blame. Mickelson took a triple bogey on the final hole Saturday, two days after making a double bogey there during the first round.
Mickelson’s drive found the creek on the left side Sunday, and his third shot (after the penalty) found a bunker on the right side of the green. His shot from the sand rolled off the green, and it took him three more shots to finish.
Mickelson didn’t speak with the media after Saturday’s round, but he did talk about No. 18 on Friday, when he managed a par.
“I love parring 18,” he said. “It’s a great golf hole. I hate playing it. It doesn’t fit well to my eye. It’s a tough way to finish the round. It’s just a hard hole for me even though I think it’s a great hole. All the shots sit opposite of a left-hand shot dispersion. I never feel comfortable on it. If it worked opposite, I would love it.”
▪ Carlos Ortiz played himself into contention Saturday with a 6-under-par 66, and the 24-year-old is in a tie for sixth at 9-under for the tournament.
Last year’s Web.com Tour player of the year from Guadalajara, Mexico, Ortiz was 3-under on the back nine Saturday with no bogeys. That’s where he’ll look to make his mark Sunday.
“Good round tomorrow and have a chance, and mainly have a chance in the back nine,” Ortiz said. “I can play good enough the first nine holes, I have a chance on the back.”
By the numbers
11 Birdies for McIlroy, which breaks the tournament record of 10 held by Retief Goosen in 2006.
4 third-round leaders who have held on to win this tournament (David Toms, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim and J.B. Holmes).
“That he’s way better than me at golf.” – Will MacKenzie on Rory McIlroy after being paired with him Saturday.
Partly sunny, high of 84. Chance of rain: 25 percent.