Justin Thomas stormed off the field to claim his second major title after Mito Pereira’s last-hole heartbreak sent the PGA Championship into a three-hole playoff.
Pereira’s double bogey on the 72nd hole wiped out his one-shot lead, leaving Thomas and fellow American Will Zalatoris in contention for the title.
It wasn’t a fair fight as 2017 champion Thomas bullied a man who is still looking for his first PGA Tour win despite this being Zulatoris’ second runner-up at the majors – he was second to Hideki Matsuyama in last year’s Masters.
Both men shagged the first extra hole, the par 5 13th hole, but Thomas had the advantage as the former world No. 1 threw his drive onto the green on the 302-yard par 4 17th hole .
Zulatoris missed the green and failed to hit his competitor’s two-putt birdie. Matching pars last time out confirmed Thomas, 29, as a multiple Major winner.
29-year-old Thomas started the final round with a seven-stroke lead. He became only the sixth player to close a deficit of that magnitude, equaling the PGA’s all-time comeback record.
But it was impossible not to feel sorry for Pereira.
The Chilean only needed to make par on the last hole to become the first South American golfer to win the USPGA, although his lead had dwindled from three shots to just one in the last round.
But he stared in disbelief as he carved his final tee shot in a zigzag along the side of the final fairway into the creek.
The best he could do from there was a six that took him third with Cameron Young – and the look on his face told you it would take Pereira a while to process that crushing blow.
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As he signed his card, the Santiago golfer held his head in his hands and fought back tears.
Just minutes earlier, he must have imagined what it would feel like to hold the giant Wanamaker trophy in those hands.
Kudos to Thomas, but this nerve-racking Southern Hills shootout will be remembered as the one that eluded the world’s 100th golfer.
Pereira didn’t take it easy, but until that shocker on the 18th tee he seemed to have all the answers.
His overnight lead was wiped out when Zatoris left the fifth green in the penultimate group after posting consecutive birdies.
Playing the first four holes in an over, Pereira was level on points with the American at eight under par – but within two holes he was three up again!
The back and forth continued through a frantic final stretch, with Fitzpatrick desperately clinging to five under.
But he struggled to get birdies, and a clumsy bogey on the tenth dropped him to two over for the round.
And when another shot fell to 11, his chance to become the first Englishman to win the PGA since Jim Barnes’ second win 102 years ago was gone.
Tommy Fleetwood might have claimed that honor had he shown the same shine he showed over the weekend earlier in the tournament.
Fleetwood followed up with a third round of 69 by bagging SEVEN birdies on a final round – the only problem was they bagged four straight bogeys starting on round seven.
But his final 67 was still the best round of the day, and a fifth-place stake in three-under signaled a welcome return to form for the former Ryder Cup hero.
The struggles of the leaders in the last round must have made Rory McIlroy even angrier at himself as he did it again in the last round – showing that he is by far the best no-pressure golfer in the game.
McIlroy started the 54th hole nine strokes behind Pereira in 17th place. But he came dashing off the blocks like a thief with a purse!
The four-time Major champion rattled off four straight birdies from second place to climb into fifth place, and another birdie or two would have had the leaders glancing nervously in the rearview mirror.
But a bogey on the sixth sapped all his pride and he ended up signing for two under par 68 – good enough for another top ten out the back door, which disguised his recent underperformance.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/golf/5398996/justin-thomas-pga-championship-win-will-zalatoris/ Justin Thomas storms to PGA Championship victory after shooting low the final round and then coming through the nervous playoff against Will Zatoris