Justin Thomas wins second PGA playoff title after 7-shot rally – Press Enterprise

By DOUG FERGUSON

TULSA, Okla. — Justin Thomas paid no attention to any score but his own Sunday at the PGA Championship, knowing he was seven shots behind but only six players ahead on a Southern Hills course where anything could happen .

I could never have dreamed how it all played out, a chaotic last hour of pressure moments, decisive putts and unimaginable heartbreak for Mito Pereira.

Thomas hit a rod on the sixth hole. He made a 65-foot birdie putt that started his record-tying comeback. He missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole that he feared would cost him. He never led until he dropped a hole in his three-hole aggregate playoff with Will Zalatoris.

And when Thomas tapped for par to capture another PGA Championship title, he stood tall on the 18th green in a mix of delight and disbelief.

“I was asked earlier in the week what lead is safe and I said, ‘lead free,’” Thomas said. “I can’t believe I found myself in a playoff.”

Thomas closed with a three-under 67, which proved to be enough for a tiebreaker when Pereira, the 27-year-old Chilean in his first PGA Championship who was never behind all day, waded into a creek and doubled. bogey the 18th hole to finish a shot from behind.

It was the first time since Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot at the 2006 US Open that a player had given up a one-shot lead on the final hole to lose a major.

“It’s sad to hit him in the water,” Pereira said. “I mean, I wish I could do it again.”

Like his first PGA title at Quail Hollow in 2017, Thomas’ signature shot came on the 17th hole. It was the second hole of the aggregate playoff. He drilled a 301-yard, par-4 3-wood at 35 feet for a two-putt birdie, his first lead of the day.

Zalatoris, whose mandatory eight-foot birdie and par shots on the final two holes of regulation took him to the tiebreaker with a 71, was unable to deliver in overtime. His 8-foot birdie putt on the 17th in the tiebreaker missed and he was unable to catch Thomas in the end.

It looked like Zalatoris had blown his chances at a first major — and his first PGA Tour victory — when he hit a 3-pointer from almost 20 feet on the 16th hole. But he responded with a birdie from the bunker on the 17th and holed a putt for 8-foot pair on the 18 for a 71.

He joined Thomas at 275, five under, and they played on when Pereira faltered.

Thomas, who had passed 14 months since his last victory at The Players Championship last year, now has a PGA Tour victory in each of his last eight years and moves up to No. 5 in the world.

His second major came when he least expected it.

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