Tremendous Thomas claims US PGA win
Justin Thomas stunningly claimed the US PGA Championship by two strokes after a thrilling final round at Quail Hollow on Sunday.
The American carded an impressive three-under 68 to earn the Wanamaker Trophy and his first major title, an eight-under total putting him clear of nearest rivals Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed and Louis Oosthuizen.
Thomas, the world number 14, produced some magic either side of the turn on the final day in Charlotte.
The 24-year-old made four birdies in seven holes – picking up shots at seven, nine, 10 and 13 in a fine final-round display in hot and humid conditions.
Thomas made a bogey-birdie-bogey start to his round, but took advantage of the par-five seventh before holing a 36-footer at nine.
He made another birdie at 10 – waiting 12 seconds before his eight-footer dropped after his tee shot found the fairway via the trees – and chipped in from just off the green at 13 as those around him who looked most likely to challenge faltered.
A player with a round of 59 on the PGA Tour and a record-breaking 63 at the U.S. Open this year, Thomas finally put together four strong rounds at a major.
While he opened with a 73, scores of 66 and 69 followed before his closing 68.
Molinari (67) and Reed (67) made moves but fell short at six under alongside Oosthuizen (70), while overnight leader Kevin Kisner (74) dropped to four under.
Rickie Fowler also made a brief run with a 67 that saw him tie for fifth with Hideki Matsuyama (72) at five under, while Chris Stroud (76) ended up seven off the pace.
Kisner had been two shots clear early in the day, but he bogeyed the seventh – one of the easiest holes on the course.
That allowed Matsuyama some control, but the Japanese star – playing alongside Thomas and with the pressure of trying to become his country's first major champion – bogeyed three straight holes starting at 11.
At one stage, there was a five-way tie at the top as Molinari joined Thomas, Matsuyama, Kisner and Stroud.
But as Thomas managed par at 12, the rest dropped shots, and the eventual champion then chipped in at 13.
Thomas failed to make the most of 14 and 15, the latter birdied by Matsuyama from 12 feet to get him back within a shot, while Kisner gained shots at both holes to get back to seven under.
The 'Green Mile' was expected to bring drama, and Matsuyama cracked at 16 – his four-footer for par lipping out.
The par-three 17th had made players nervous all week – the pin even nearer to water on the left on Sunday – but not Thomas, who hit a seven-iron to within 14 feet for another birdie and a two-shot lead.
It surely made the walk up to 18 significantly less nerve-wracking and, if he dared look, Kisner's bogey at 16 meant Thomas held a three-shot lead.
Thomas' tee shot at the last went into a bunker, but - watched on by close friends Jordan Spieth and Fowler – he steadied to close with a bogey, the 'Green Mile' and the tough Quail Hollow course having been conquered.