Tour Championship pay day in Cantlay grasp

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Patrick Cantlay has sunk a 25-foot birdie putt for a two-shot lead over Jon Rahm in the Tour Championship to set the stage for a sprint to the $15 million ($A21m) prize.

It might not be a two-man race at East Lake, anymore, however.

Cantlay's birdie allowed him to finish strong after a wobbly four-hole stretch that had winnowed his four-shot lead down to one.

He wound up with a 3-under 67 and was at 20-under par, leaving him one round away from the US PGA Tour's lucrative FedExCup title.

Rahm finished with five straight pars for a 68 and was still very much alive.

He went from a four-shot deficit after the 10th hole to a one-shot deficit just five holes later.

It's not easy to go low at East Lake, but it's easy to lose ground.

Cantlay did that with a pair of mistakes over the final hour.

"Hopefully tomorrow, I can bring my A-game and give this guy in front of me a little bit of a run," Rahm said.

Not to be overlooked was Justin Thomas, though he was agitated with his finish.

Thomas, who began the event six shots behind Cantlay because of his position in the FedExCup standings coming into the finale, was poised for the low round of the week to to get a little closer.

But he pulled his tee shot on the par-5 18th, went rough-to-rough to 35 feet, and then three-putted for bogey by missing a 5-foot putt.

He was five behind at 15-under.

No one else was closer than seven shots of Cantlay, who began the week at 10-under par after his BMW Championship victory made him the No.1 seed.

Australian Cameron Smith, who started this week fifth, carded a three-over 73 to slide to a share of 13th at 6-under.

Five bogeys and a double at the par-3 15th were offset by three birdies - including one at the 18th.

Cantlay and Rahm will play in the final pairing again as the season comes to a conclusion while Thomas and Kevin Na (66, 13-under) would appear the only real threats to the top two.

Asked if he would be thinking about the possible eight-figure payday on Sunday, Cantlay said: "The internal drive to win golf tournaments is really what drives me, and so the external factors are not as much of a factor for me... I play the game because I want to win golf tournaments and I love doing that, and I'm in a great spot to do that tomorrow."

A win for Cantlay would be his fourth of the season - no one else has more than two.

Abraham Ancer (65) and Billy Horschel (67) are tid for fifth place at 10-under, for the best score of the round.

Brooks Koepka withdrew midway through the 13th hole on Saturday because of a wrist ailment.

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