The 29-year-old American Justin Thomas equaled the record for the biggest successful comeback in a final round of the major.
It was Justin’s “comeback” to Thomas Sunday in Southern Hills (Oklahoma): the American went up seven shots late at the start of the 4th round to triumph a second time at the PGA Championship, beating Will Zalatoris in the best of three holes of the playoff, Sunday.
After winning his 15th title on the North American circuit, Thomas ended 14 months of scarcity, his previous victory dating back to March 2021 at the Players Championship.
His triumph in the second Grand Slam of the season comes five years after his first crown in Quail Hollow, North Carolina.
Between emotion and amazement
It was a weird day. I was asked earlier this week if being in the lead was the safest way to win. I said no because this place is so difficult… But if you reach the fairways, you can make birdies, and I’ve been so patient.
I still couldn’t believe that I was in a playoff,” commented the American afterward, between emotion and amazement after his historic feat.
It is historic because by doing so, he equaled a record: that of the greatest successful comeback in a final round until then held by John Mahaffey, winner of the PGA Championship in 1978.
The golfer from Louisville (Kentucky), who should make a jump to the heights of the world ranking, of which he occupied the 9th place before the tournament, was crowned after taking the best on Will Zalatoris, who, like last year at the Masters of Augusta, fails to the 2nd place.
And Mito Pereira collapsed
«I fought like crazy today. I’m close and super motivated; I’m going to win a Major soon,” said the 25-year-old American, 30th in the world, who was aiming for a rare feat, as he could have made this Major his first title on the North American circuit.
In the 2nd playoff hole, on par 4 of the N.17, he met an opponent back from the vauvert devil who had the “momentum” for him.
His drive landed directly on the green when Zalatoris’ stopped outside, near the bunker. The latter still came close enough to aim for a birdie. The missed goal, unlike Thomas, took there a great psychological ascendancy.
The latter did not let go on the N.18, ensuring the par without his rival doing better than him. His determination and delicious golf rewarded “JT“, who can also thank Guillermo “Mito” Pereira.
The almost unknown Chilean, who played only his second Major tournament, was in the lead since the 3rd round. Throughout the day, he held the distance, despite being close to his competitors, until he cracked at the worst moment.
Congratulated by Tiger Woods
He may regret having come close to birdie at N.17, which would probably have assured him of a victory, his putt stopping at the edge of the hole, blocked by who knows what, except perhaps invisible ant legs.
On the other hand, Ants had at his fingertips when his drive sent the ball into the river to the last hole. He conceded a double-bogey and brutally saw his dreams of a historic Major crown collapse.
Because he, too, like Zalatoris, was looking for a first victory on the circuit.
It’s hard to end up like this. I played very well all week. You have so much pressure over your body that you may not even know what you’re doing,” he lamented.
With an experience that his two rivals did not have, Thomas knew well what he was doing, and, as a connoisseur, his friend Tiger Woods did not fail to salute his performance.
«Congratulations to Justin! He remained consistent until the very end, and once he had his shooting window, he didn’t look back,” tweeted the “Tiger,” who had given up the day before.
Suffering, the winner of 15 Grand Slams, had decided not to go to the end of his second tournament, fifteen months after his car accident near Los Angeles, which almost cost him his right leg.
Ranking after the 4th round and the three rounds of the playoffs (par 70):
1. Justin Thomas (USA) -5 (67-67-74-67-11)
2. Will Zalatoris (USA) -5 (66-65-73-71-8)
3. Guillermo Pereira (CHI) -4 (68-64-69-75)
. Cameron Young (USA) -4 (71-67-67-71)… etc