Thomas back in golf’s good books with second Major triumph

by | May 23, 2022 | 0 comments

Justin Thomas poses with the Wanamaker Trophy after beating Will Zalatoris in a playoff to win during the final round of the 2022 USPGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Justin Thomas erased the legacy of any lingering controversy to win a second Rodman Wanamaker trophy with a play-off victory in the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Thomas, aged 29 years and 26 days, defeated fellow American Will Zalatoris in a three-hole aggregate play-off at Southern Hills after Chilean Mito Pereira horribly let slip creating golf history in finding a water hazard off the tee at the 72nd hole and went from leading by a shot at six-under to missing out on the play-off.

Pereira int he end finished at four-under following the tragic finale to what would have been the biggest fairytale major triumph since probably Paul Lawrie captured the 1999 Open.

The 27-year-old Chilean golfer is the third golfer in the past 20 years to double-bogey the last hole of the final round in a major to miss the playoff by one. Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie both did so at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

Fair credit though to Thomas.  He was golf’s bad boy in January 2021 following a homophobic slur picked-up on TV after he missed a putt at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Thomas erased a seven-shot deficit to shoot a Tulsa last round 67 and then went on to defeat Zalatoris by one stroke in the play-off after each tied for the lead at five-under.

With victory Thomas tied John Mahaffey for the biggest comeback in PGA Championship history. Mahaffey came back from the same deficit in 1978 to win.

“You know, it hasn’t sunk in just yet,” said Thomas. “I think it did more in the moment. I was jittery, and I almost kind of couldn’t feel my limbs walking up to that tap-in.”

Thomas opened the tournament with back-to-back rounds of 67 to make it to the weekend, but a third-round 74 on Saturday knocked him back down the leaderboard.

After making two bogeys and two birdies on the front nine Sunday, Thomas went bogey-free on his back nine, making three birdies en route to the 67.

Thomas admitted that his previous winning experience played a part in helping him close out the victory on Sunday.

“I kept telling myself I’ve been here before,” said Thomas. “Although it’s been five years, it’s somewhere down in there.”

Before Sunday’s win, it had been over a year since the Kentucky-born player had a win on Tour. His last win came at The Players Championship in March 2021.

Emgland’s Matt Fitzpatrick,who played in the final pairing with Pereira, shot a 3-over 73 on Sunday to finish in a tie for fifth. Cameeon Young, who was in the penultimate pairing with Zalatoris, finished one shot back of the playoff in a tie for third with Pereira.

Justin Thomas – Winning Fact File
  • Justin Thomas, the son and grandson of a PGA Professional, defeats Will Zalatoris in a 3-hole aggregate playoff to win the PGA Championship for the second time (2017, 2022); becomes the 22nd multiple winner of the event
  • Thomas comes from seven strokes back to tie the PGA Championship record for largest final-round comeback
  • Thomas’ win is the largest comeback win since Justin Rose came from eight back at the 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions
  • Thomas has now won in seven straight seasons on the PGA TOUR (will become the TOUR’s longest streak if Dustin Johnson does not win this season)
  • Thomas wins the first playoff at the PGA Championship since 2011 (Keegan Bradley over Jason Dufner)
  • Thomas wins the fifth 3-hole aggregate playoff in PGA Championship history; is the first to birdie the first two holes
  • Thomas wins the first playoff in a major championship since the 2017 Masters (Sergio Garcia over Justin Rose)
  • Thomas becomes the seventh-consecutive American winner of the PGA Championship
  • 36-hole leader Zalatoris finishes runner-up for the third time in 48 TOUR starts; picks up fifth top-10 finish in last seven major starts
  • 54-hole leader Mito Pereira makes double bogey on No.18 to finish T3; records best finish by a Chilean at a major
  • This year marks the first time in eight major championships contested at Southern Hills that the 36-hole and 54-hole leader/co-leader failed to win
  • Cameron Young picks up his fifth top-3 finish of the season, tied with Scottie Scheffler for most on TOUR

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