Justin Thomas on Top of the World After WGC Triumph
Justin Thomas shot a final round of 65 to win the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational by three strokes. It took him to the top of the world rankings, and he later admitted that he had been spurred on by his recent defeat by Collin Morikawa at Muirfield Village. Thomas had led his young American rival by three strokes but lost in a playoff.
“That one stung,” said Thomas. “This win means a lot, especially since I did it coming from behind.” It was his 13th on the PGA Tour - in modern times, only Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have achieved the feat at a younger age. Thomas is 27 years, three months old.
Thomas started the final round at TPC Southwind four off the lead. His 13-under-par winning total of 267 was good enough for a three shot victory over Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Daniel Berger and England’s Tom Lewis. Although Koepka threw away his own chances to win, he will head to the US PGA Championship delighted with his form. Berger continues his good form, Mickelson played some wonderfully consistent golf all week and Lewis enjoyed a sparkling weekend, the highlight of which was a round of 61 on Saturday - it is the sort of display that will convince Lewis he really does belong out here.
Thomas played the front nine in 31. He missed just one green and had birdie putts within 25 feet on all nine holes. He bogeyed the 12th hole but birdies on the 15th and 16th, the former made possible by a fortuitous bounce, were the difference. “I got so lucky at the 15th,” Thomas admitted. “But when it is your day, that is the sort of thing that happens. My drive could have finished anywhere."
It was his third win of the season, and first since the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January and he increased his lead in the FedExCup to more than 700 points.
“It was a hard-fought day, but it meant a lot, how we did it, being four behind to start the day.” Thomas said. “I haven't exactly played well coming from behind in the past and I feel like I learnt a lot from that.”
The margin of victory implies an easy win, but it was anything but. At one point on the back nine, there were five players tied for the lead.
A resurgent Koepka put pressure on Thomas until the final hole.
Thomas says he spent most of the round unaware of how things stood and didn’t see a leaderboard until the 13th hole.
Thomas parred those two holes before hitting a poor tee shot on the 15th, a short par four with a creek that runs down the left side and in front of the green. His ball was headed toward the water, but it hit the cart path and bounced safely over the penalty area. He then knocked his approach to six feet and holed the putt.He birdied the next after another great wedge to three feet.
Thomas and Koepka, the past two winners of this event, had separated themselves from the field at that point, but Thomas appeared to have the tournament in his pocket when Koepka’s own pitch to the 16th rolled over the green. The bogey gave Thomas a two-shot lead.
Koepka has a knack for summoning his best golf in crucial moments, and he did that again Sunday, holing a 40-foot birdie putt from the fringe on 17 to pull back within a shot before a calamitous double-bogey on the final hole after driving into the water.
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