American won by two shots at Quail Hollow in North Carolina in final major of the year
JUSTIN THOMAS powered to his first major victory on the back on the back of a birdie that will be talked about for years to come.
When he thinks back on how he won the 99th USPGA Championship, Thomas will always remember the heart-stopping drama of the tenth hole as the inspiration for his two-shot victory.
1. Justin Thomas -8
T2. Francesco Molinari -6
T2. Patrick Reed -6
T2. Louis Oosthuizen -6
T5. Rickie Fowler -5
T5. Hideki Matsuyama -5
He got an incredible stroke of luck when his ball seemed to be hurtling into the trees down the left of the hole – only to smack into an overhanging branch and bounce into the middle of the fairway.
A couple of shots later, Thomas was standing over a ten-footer for birdie – and he stared at his ball in disbelief as it trickled to the edge of the hole, and stopped, almost as if it was defying gravity.
The American could not believe it had not dropped. After pointing at it his ball in disbelief, he puffed out his cheeks, and took a circuitous route to the hole, hoping it could still drop.
And sure enough, after teetering for a few seconds the ball disappeared into the hole, inspiring memories of Tiger Woods’ famous chip shot at the 16th at Augusta, which was immortalised in an ad for Nike.
Thomas, 24, added two more crucial birdies at the 13th and 15th, and instead of being best known as Jordan Spieth’s best friend, he has joined him in the ranks of the Major winners.
The pair had dinner the night before the final round, and Spieth – who never played himself into contention for a tilt at the career Grand Slam – gave his pal a heartfelt pep talk.
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Thomas was the hottest player in the game at the start of the year, rattling off three victories in the space of five starts.
But the world No 15’s form cooled once the Majors got under way, and after a top ten finish at the US Open he missed three cuts in a row, including the Open at Birkdale.
He could even afford a bogey at the final hole as his three under par 68 took him to eight under par, and a career-defining victory.
After a strangely subdued third round – when moving day was replaced by ‘when time stood still – the tournament really came to life.
Four different players held the outright lead at one stage, with 54 hole pacesetter Kevin Kisner being passed by Hideki Matsuyama, Francesco Molinari – and then by Thomas, who was in no mood to give it back.