American Justin Thomas wins US PGA with an incredible comeback

American Justin Thomas wins US PGA with an incredible comeback

All of them would have been feel-good, announcing the arrival of a new star on the tour. However, at Southern Hills, we got another kind of heightened drama — befitting a major. When Mito, the 27-year-old Chilean stood at hole 18, he was poised for history — only needing a par to win outright or a bogey to qualify for a playoff. Shockingly, he had a double bogey. At the final hole, his bid collapsed, and the chance went begging. Neither a win nor a playoff. He had been in the lead or tied all day Sunday, on the cusp of being the champion, winning his and Chile’s first major in just his second.

Ranked 100th in the world, and having previously played in just one major championship, he was not on anybody’s list of favorites coming into Tulsa. Until he hit a disappointing final-round 75, the Wanamaker Trophy was his to lose.

Instead, the victory speech was delivered by Justin Thomas, who won his first major the USPGA at Quail Hollow in 2017. He had begun Sunday trailing leader Mito Pereira by 7 shots and was even down by 8 early on at Southern Hills Championship Course in Tulsa. Then the comeback began.  The 7-shot charge after 54 holes tied John Mahaffey in 1978 for the largest in PGA Championship history. Mahaffey had overhauled Tom Watson from seven back 44 years ago!

“I looked at the leaderboard last night. There were a lot of great players ahead of me but they hadn’t won a major before. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. So I stayed patient and went about my way.” Thomas said after his win adding “It’s so nice to hear two-time (champion) instead of one-time!”

He was as jubilant as he was right. Neither Pereira nor his countrymen Will Zalatoris, Stewart Cink, and Cameron Young, nor Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, Irishman Séamus Power, or Méxican Abraham Ancer who were above him on the leaderboard had tasted victory at a major. He stayed patient and the luck of the green came his way.

The course was punishing, with only 12 players finishing the 72 holes over the 4 rounds under par a further 10 down from the 22 golfers who were under par at the halfway stage. Thomas was trailing throughout the event, evident from the leaderboards.

 Round 1

 

Rory McIlroy

65

-5

Round 2

Will Zalatoris

66-65=131 -9

Round 3

Mito Pereira

68-64-69=201 -9

Final Round 4

Justin Thomas

67-67-74-67=275 -5

Will Zalatoris

66-65-73-71=275 -5

 It was his charge and Pereira’s meltdown that pushed us into the playoff with compatriot Zalatoris who was in the lead or tied second throughout. Both the Americans birdied their 13th hole, to begin with. Thomas two-putted for birdie at the 17th while Zalatoris settled for par. On the 18th, when Zalatoris missed a lengthy birdie putt, Thomas just needed to two-putt for par to clinch the 3-hole play-off and his second career PGA Championship title and major championship.

The Kentucky lad did just that to cap off a remarkable, memorable, and for-the-ages comeback. At 29, the former World Number 1 now has 13 PGA Tour victories to tag along with his 2 majors. The US PGA delivered once again, thrilling with a rousing finish. While we witnessed a fantastic win, we also had a glimpse of a Chilean talent who can be a future world-beater. Before we know it, the US Open will be upon us next month from Brookline, Massachusetts. We at Blue Tee Golf are eager to see what lies in store.

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