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Spieth can go closest to catching tank engine Thomas

Runaway leader looks home and hosed

Jordan Spieth fired a final-round 65 last Sunday
1 of 1

Final round
Sky Sports 4, 11pm

Story so far

The Justin Thomas Sony Open express train made a stuttering start to round three at Waialae Country Club, but it picked up pace coming home and remains on course for success.

Thomas won the SBS Tournament of Champions by three shots at Kapalua last Sunday and the buzzing American youngster has his sights set firmly on total dominance of the US Tour's Hawaii Swing. He leads by seven shots with 18 holes to play at Waialae.

Thomas, a 22-1 winner last week and 14-1 ante-post for the Sony, has matched the US Tour's record for a 54-hole total. He opened with an 11-under-par 59 on Thursday and followed up with rounds of 64 and 65 – only 188 shots have been needed over three days.

Thomas is no bigger than 1-10 to get the job done and become the only player other than Ernie Els (2003) to win both Hawaii titles in the same year. Zach Johnson, the 2009 Sony champion, is in second place and can be backed at 25-1.

Jordan Spieth has endured a miserable week on the greens and is in ninth place, ten shots off the pace, while Hideki Matsuyama is a further two shots adrift. Kevin Kisner missed a nine-foot putt for a 59 on the 18th hole in round three.

Leaderboard

-22 Justin Thomas
-15 Zach Johnson
-14 Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, Hudson Swafford
-13 Jamie Lovemark, Russell Knox, Kevin Kisner
-12 Jordan Spieth

Best prices

1-10 J Thomas, 25 Z Johnson, 40 J Rose, 45 G Woodland, 66 J Spieth, 80 H Swafford, 90 R Knox, 100 J Lovemark, 125 K Kisner, 300 bar

 Final-round advice

The outright market looks effectively closed due to the heroics of Justin Thomas. The ever-improving 23-year-old powerhouse has built such a cushion, the rest of the field are almost certainly playing for second place.

Nobody has ever lost on the US Tour with a seven-shot or better 54-hole lead. Six players have squandered a six-shot advantage – most recently Spencer Levin in the 2012 Phoenix Open – but seven seems to be the mark where a player becomes unbeatable Stateside.

Thomas has probably had his bad round of the week – and it was a 65! He putted poorly on the front nine in round three and hit lots of loose shots on the back, but there was enough brilliance to progress to 22 under par.

Zach Johnson is the closest to Thomas and the most likely party-pooper, particularly as the two-time Major champion seems to relish chasing. Johnson has won 12 times on the US Tour and nine of those victories were come-from-behind efforts. The biggest final-round deficit he has ever overcome was four shots to win the 2012 John Deere Classic.

If Johnson was putting well, he would have a squeak on a course which sets up perfectly for him, but there has not been enough sparkle in Zach's flat-stick. And little pressure is likely to come on Thomas from those further behind. The three players tied for third place – Justin Rose, Gary Woodland and Hudson Swafford – rarely catch fire with putter in hand. Surely they will not be able to conjure a round low enough to trouble the leader.

Jordan Spieth looks like he has a seriously low round in him if he can find his putting boots overnight, but he needs a miracle from ten shots behind. Even a 59, the score registered by Thomas on Thursday and almost matched by Kevin Kisner in round three, would probably not be enough for Spieth to triumph.

A few firms are betting on the Sony outright without Thomas, and Spieth is worth supporting in this market. The world number five closed with an eight-under-par 65 at Kapalua last Sunday and can be expected to finish with a flourish at Waialae too.

Final-round threeball punters should consider Kevin Na, a grinder who usually retains his focus for 72 holes regardless of his position on the leaderboard. Na, the world number 46, looks a big price at 11-8 to defeat Shawn Stefani and Tim Wilkinson in the 9.10pm (UK and Ireland time) contest. Thomas, Johnson and Rose are due on the tee together at 10.40pm.

Outright recommendation
J Spieth w/o J Thomas
1pt each-way 9-1 BoyleSports

Threeball recommendation
K Na
1pt 11-8 Coral

Nobody has ever lost on the US Tour with a seven-shot or better 54-hole lead
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