Justin Thomas surges into lead at Bridgestone

Tiger Woods is targeting a first Ryder Cup appearance as a player for six years

"I never hit it out of position and think I got away with one bad tee shot where it bounced out of the trees but apart from that played lovely, putted really nice and just picked them off".

"The hard part about this course is you can get off track pretty quick if you're not playing well", Thomas told CBS television.

AKRON, Ohio - If Tiger Woods is going to win the final edition of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he will need a big Saturday.

The comment turned out to be prophetic, but then some would call Thomas' final-round performance a prevent defense along the lines of what Tiger Woods once did so well in his prime, an ability to know when to make the pack come to you.

"We're obviously doing a lot of things right".

A light rain was falling when Justin Thomas headed out for a practice round on Tuesday at Firestone.

Justin Thomas poses with the Gary Player Cup trophy after holding his nerve to win the Bridgestone Invitational.

It was a coronation from there with Thomas making birdie at the 13th hole to extend his lead and closing his day with five stress-free pars for a 15-under total.

Players Championship victor Webb Simpson holed a wedge from 111 yards for eagle at the par-five 16th and joined Woods on six-under in the World Golf Championships event.

Thomas, 25, is the third three-time victor on tour this year, after Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson.

The victory was especially special for Thomas, in front of his grandparents.

"To win on a championship golf course like [Firestone] and against a very tough field, it just felt great", he said.

Firestone has held tour events since the Rubber City Open in 1954.

But McIlroy had already dropped a shot at the short fifth and effectively took himself out of contention with a torrid run of three consecutive bogeys around the turn, while Poulter's chances were scuppered when he dropped three shots in four holes in an outward 37.

Thomas had not had a score better than 67, and he had not finished higher than a tie for 28th in his two previous appearances at Firestone.

As for Firestone, it has been an awesome run for Woods at the course that will no longer be host for the tournament - it is moving to Memphis next year. The World Series of Golf began in 1962, and it became an official PGA Tour event in 1976. It is moving to Memphis, Tennessee, in 2019.

First round leader Poulter managed a solid 67 to match Fleetwood and Thomas at 11-under 129, two strokes ahead of Australian Jason Day and American Kyle Stanley. He went 1 over the rest of the way for a 68, leaving him five shots behind.

World number one Dustin Johnson and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen shot 64 and tied for third on 10 under.

McIlroy was satisfied with a bogey-free round, particularly the quality of his driving, as he smashed his tee shots more than 300 yards with monotonous regularity.

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