Justin Thomas Puts on a Champion Display in Hawaii
It is safe to say that Justin Thomas quite likes Hawaii. And why wouldn’t he after winning the Tournament of Champions for his 12th PGA Tour title?
The 26-year-old American defeated Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele in a playoff after bogeys on two of his final three holes in regulation play. He birdied the third extra hole to beat Reed after defending champion Schauffele was eliminated on the first playoff hole. The three men had finished 72 holes with 14 under par totals of 278. It means that Thomas is an astonishing 115 under par for this tournament and the Sony Open since 2017. And that is why he loves Hawaii.
The tournament only features players who won on the PGA Tour last year and Thomas, the 2017 champion, enjoyed a two-shot lead with three to play, but dropped one at the 16th and then had a bogey six at the par-five 18th in a four-under-par 69.Playing partner Schauffele, the world number eight, reached the final green in two, but missed a seven-foot birdie putt for victory, carding a three-under 70. Reed was already in the clubhouse on 14 under after capping a bogey-free seven-under 66 with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole. The 2018 Masters champion had putts to win on each of the first two play-off holes but was unable to get efforts from 30 feet and 12 feet to drop.
"For some reason I was supposed to win this week. I got very, very lucky," said Thomas. "I truly felt like through 15 holes it was one of the best rounds I ever played."
He started the day one stroke off Schauffele's lead before a run of six birdies in eight holes. "He was hitting ridiculous shots, making good putts in the wind, and he deserved the lead he got," said Schauffele.
“The emotions and how I was winning and then I was barely winning and then I was losing and then I barely got in a playoff… that takes a lot out of you. I probably don't seem as elated as I might be or as I would hope to be,” Thomas said.
“But it'll just take a little bit. Once I get back to the hotel hopefully with my family, I'll be able to enjoy it a little bit and we'll talk about it. But relief is definitely a word that comes to mind.
“I truly felt like through 15 holes it was one of the best rounds I had played. I was in such control tee to green. I was putting it beautifully, my irons were awesome, and I hit a really good drive on 16, just the wind took it more, and then 18 was just a disaster. I really didn't hit very many good shots on the hole. But it worked out.”
In winning, Thomas goes to the top of the FedExCup standings. He joined Tiger Woods (34) and Jack Nicklaus (20) as the only players with 12 or more PGA Tour wins before the age of 27 in the past 60 years. It is his second win this season, and third in his last six starts.
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