The PGA Championship seems to always deliver thrills on Sunday during the final hours of the battle for the Wanamaker Trophy, and even though Quail Hollow was a first-time host, the conclusion of Justin Thomas' win had all the excitement we've come to expect from this tournament.
At one point as many as five held a share of the lead on Sunday afternoon, but 24-year-old Justin Thomas got it done with gamesmanship and sauce that brought the gallery to their feet at nearly every turn.
That championship started sliding its way into Thomas' favor on the par-5 10th hole. First, Thomas' tee shot got a lucky bounce off the trees on the left. The ball landed back in the fairway, and after missing the green on his approach shot Thomas chipped to 10 feet and stared down a birdie opportunity. The birdie putt appeared to miss to the left, sitting on the lip of the cup for 12 seconds before finally tumbling in and providing the energy boost that JT would ride all the way to his first major win.
Justin spoke to CBS Sports after the win saying he needed to have patience and that he "had a great opportunity to win today."
"I felt like I had the game to get it done, just a matter of if I did or not," Thomas said.
The PGA has been part of the Thomas family for three generations, The Associated Press reports. Paul Thomas, his grandfather, was the longtime pro at Zanesville Country Club in Ohio who played in the 1962 U.S. Open. His father played at Morehead State and had aspirations of playing the tour that didn't last long. Instead, Mike Thomas became a club pro who watched his son fall in love with the game and grow into a force on the PGA Tour.
"I can't put it into words," Thomas said about his PGA of America heritage. "I wish my grandpa could be here for it. It's so special to get it done. I've glad we have a trophy now."
took a moment Sunday to congratulate Thomas with this message on Twitter:
Here's how the rest of the leaderboard breaks down:
1. Justin Thomas (-8)
This is a huge moment for Thomas and wraps a great major season for young American golfers. The trio of Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka will be battling for major championships for a while, and this win moves JT quickly through the ranks of acceptance as a star in this sport. He started the year as "Mr. 59" and soon changed his number of note to 63 with his record-breaking round at the U.S. Open. Now the important number is 1, the number of major championships the young golfer has before the age of 25.
T2. Patrick Reed (-6)
The long, strange drought of Reed lacking a top-10 finish in a major is over. Reed got warmed up with four birdies on the front nine and then played his way in with no big mistakes until a bogey on the 18th hole that dropped him two strokes off the lead (at the time).
T2. Francesco Molinari (-6)
The wild whiplash between Molinari's Thursday-Saturday (average score: 73.5) and Friday-Sunday (average score: 65.5) is baffling. Twice he had or tied for the best round of the day, but a horrendous start to his third round and a bogey at 16 on Sunday ended up being the mistakes that cost him a shot at his first major win.
T2. Louis Oosthuizen (-6)
Oosty lurked on a leaderboard full of potential first-timers as the only major winner of the group, and he ratcheted up the pressure on the younger stars with an eagle on 15. A long birdie putt on 18 boosted him up the leaderboard into the T2 finish, his first top-10 and best finish at the PGA Championship.
T5. Hideki Matsuyama (-5)
Normally you expect to see major winners put away the tournament with steady golf in high-pressure situations down the stretch. I believe Matsuyama will win a major one day, but if he does, it probably won't be in that style. With the lead extended to -7 and even -8, Hideki was all over the place with three pars and four bogeys over a seven-hole stretch before a par at 17 and then a bogey on the final hole.
T5. Rickie Fowler (-5)
Fowler had one of the best rounds of the day with a 67, but he needed help that he would not get for the leaders to fall back to him. It was a good showing for Fowler at a course where he beat out Rory McIlroy in a playoff just five years ago, but by the time his hot streak started, the leaders were too far away to catch.
T5. Kevin Kisner (-5*)
While Justin Thomas put on a show, Kevin Kisner tried to hang on in the final group of the day. Kisner held the lead for most of the tournament and started the day at 7-under, but the management of that score level to par started to break down on the last nine holes of the tournament. Three birdies coming in made things interesting, but they were paired with three bogeys and unlike Thomas it never felt like Kisner was going to be able to pull away from the crowded back at the top.