Thomas will win his second PGA title in the playoffs after a 7-shot rally
TULSA, ACLA. – Justin Thomas did not pay attention to any number, except for his Sunday in the PGA Championship, knowing that he is seven throws behind, but ahead of him on the track Southern Hills, where anything can happen.
He could never have dreamed of how it all played out, a chaotic last hour of tense moments, blows to the clutch and unimaginable heartache for Mitt Pereira.
Thomas hit the shank on the sixth hole. He made a 65-foot birdie kick that kicked off his record return. He missed a 10-foot bird into the last hole, which he feared would cost him. He never led until there was one hole left in his overall three-hole playoff with Will Zalataris.
And when Thomas ran for the face-to-face title to win another PGA title, he stood on the 18th green with a mix of joy and disbelief.
“Earlier in the week I was asked which lead was safe, and I replied,‘ No lead, ’” Thomas said. “I can’t believe I ended up in the playoffs.”
Thomas closed with a score of 3 to 67, which proved enough for the playoffs when Pereira, a 27-year-old from Chile in his first PGA championship, who never fell behind all day, ran into a creek and the 18th committed a double tragedy. hole to finish one shot from behind.
It was the first time since Phil Mickelson’s Winged Foot at the 2006 US Open that the player preferred one shot on the last hole and lost in major.
“It’s a shame to get in the water,” Pereira said. “I mean, I’d like to do it again.”
Just like his first PGA title at Quail Hollow in 2017, Thomas ’signature hit took place on the 17th hole. It was the second hole of the overall playoffs. He drilled a 3-tree on a 301-yard from 4 to 35 feet for a bird with two strokes, which was his first success of the day.
The goldsmith, whose obligatory 8-footer for birds and couples on the last two holes of regulation brought him to the playoffs with 71, could not perform in overtime. His 8-foot birdie in 17th place in the playoffs missed, and in the end he failed to catch Thomas.
Zalataris looked like he had lost his chances for his first major victory – and his first victory in the PGA Tour – when he scored three 20-foot shots on the 16th hole. But he responded with a birdie from the bunker on the 17th and on the 18th achieved an 8-foot drowning on the 71st.
He joined Thomas in 5-to-275 and they were playing when Pereira shook.
Thomas, who has passed 14 months since his last victory at the Players ’Championship last year, now has a victory in the PGA Tour each of the last eight years and moves up to 5th place in the world.
His second major came when he least expected it.
None of the six players ahead of him ever won a major. Thomas knew this. He was in the longest drought since his first PGA Tour title. He also knew about it.
“I remember how hard it is to win now, so I knew I would be nervous and I knew they would feel the same way,” Thomas said. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
John Mahafi at the 1978 PGA Championship in Oakman was another player who struck seven from behind on the last day. He also won the playoffs for Tom Watson and Jerry Pate.
Thomas was still seven shots behind when he made his excellent run, a mix of key birds and avoiding mistakes in his card. It all started with an incredible bird strike from near the green to the back pin on the par-3 11th. He came closer with an 18-foot bird on the next hole.
He hid, and oil flowed from the leading flock behind him.
Zlataris and Cameron Young caught Pereira, albeit briefly. They all found trouble in the roughness of both the sand and the greenery.
Pereira was on the verge of becoming Chile’s first major champion and giving South America a Grand Slam career.
Even after five bugs he never lost the lead and put nominal saves from the hopper to the left of the ninth green and well behind the 10th green. None was bigger than his 12-foot kick on the 16th to stay one shot ahead.
In one fell swoop it all came together.
His sawn swing with the driver, so effective on the previous hole, escaped to the right and into the creek on the right side of the 18th fairway. After falling from the penalty spot his approach up the hill started on the left and never backed down, landing on an uneven spot. His chip rolled back from the back edge of the green.
His double scarecrow gave him 75, which was the unfortunate end of such a promising week.
“On Monday, I just wanted to make an incision. I wanted to win on Sunday, ”Pereira said. “I’ll take it to learn for the future.”
Young, whose father is a longtime PGA professional, will also look back at missed chances. Playing with Zalatoris, a former roommate in Wake Forest, Young was in the mix all day and was briefly equal to the leader. His hopes ended on the 16th when he found a bunker to the right of the green, exploded weakly at 30 feet and three times put behind a double scarecrow. He closed with 71.
Rory McIlroy made a short run with four birds in a row in the top nine, putting him in the 4th lowest score in the tournament. For the rest of the way he was 2nd and finished eighth.
In the eight major tournaments at Southern Hills it was the first time a player had rallied with any advantage to win, and it was only the second playoff. Retif Guzen won another in the 2001 US Open after scoring three goals in the last 12-foot hole. At least he got another chance, unlike Pereira.
Six of Southern Hills ’previous seven major champions are in the World Golf Hall of Fame. The 29-year-old Thomas, now with two majors among 15 wins in the PGA Tour, will probably head there one day.