Justin Thomas won his ninth PGA Tour title on Sunday at Firestone with a steady 1-under par 69 in the last-ever edition of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.
Despite winning eight previous times in the past 33 months – including seven in an 18-month span, it was Thomas’ first victory that his “grandma and grandpa” got to witness in person.
So as Thomas was preparing to putt on the 18th green, he spotted his grandparents in the gallery, and for the first time in his career, the Kentucky native got choked up.
In an effort to compose himself, Thomas bent his head down, and then two putted for the win.
“Yeah, it was pretty special. I can’t really put it into words, honestly. When I had my putt, I kind of marked it and I turned around and I just happened to see my parents, saw my grandma and grandpa and I just got a huge knot in my throat and I just had to put my head down,” said Thomas.
“I never have gotten like that on the golf course before… I wanted to win with them here so bad. I mean, they just mean so much to me and they’ve been so influential my whole life. It was definitely an emotional moment.
“You just don’t know if they’re ever going to see me win if I don’t win here, so it was pretty cool to get it done.”
His grandfather, Paul Thomas, was a 60-year member of the PGA of America and played in the 1960 PGA Championship at Firestone. On Sunday, it all came full circle for the elder Thomas, as he got to watch his grandson win at the very same course he’d played some 58 years earlier. Except this time, the golfer with the last name Thomas was the star of the show, and not a guy named Palmer.
“It had to be pretty cool. That thing with my grandpa is he’s not emotional, he’s very right in front of you, straight laced, like a lot of older people,” said Thomas, whose father Mike was also a PGA teaching pro, and now works as part of Team Thomas.
“He’s very blunt and very honest. It’s pretty funny sometimes. I’ll play well and maybe just not putt very well and he’ll be like, ‘oh, you just couldn’t make anything, huh?’ I’m like, ‘yeah, I couldn’t, I know, thanks.’ ‘
“But just, I truly don’t know. I think my grandma’s going to be a lot more likely to express how she felt about it than my grandpa, that’s just the kind of person that he is. But I hadn’t seen him smile or be that happy maybe ever. It was pretty cool to be the reason that he was like that.”
Thomas’ grandmother, Phyllis, made news a several weeks back when he shared her text message prior to the French Open.
“I’ll read it verbatim for you if you want it,” said Thomas, when asked to share the text message.
“She said,’Dad told me you were on your way to France and that you had been sick all week. Hope you have some good shit-kicking antibiotics. Hit them good across the pond and be well.’ That’s grandma right there.”
It’s unknown if the now famous grandparents will make the trip to St.Louis to watch their grandson defend the Wanamaker Trophy at this week’s PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club.