Justin Thomas followed up a tournament-low 64 on Saturday, with a final-round 4-under 68 to claim a one-shot victory at The PLAYERS Championship.
The 27-year old star entered Sunday’s finale at vaunted TPC Sawgrass three off the pace of overnight leader Lee Westwood. After a slow start, Thomas heated things up around the turn, producing birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie, on Nos. 9-12, to reach 14 under par.
“Jimmy [Johnson] did a good job keeping me calm and in that frame of mind, but I knew one hole wasn’t going to affect me or impact me,” said Thomas.
“I know you can shoot 6-, 7-, 8-under on the back nine out here if you get it going, and I just tried to make sure that I was in the frame of mind to where that was possible or where that was able to happen, and that stretch 9 through 12 was huge for me.”
A bogey on No. 14 was quickly offset with a birdie on the par-5 16th, and at 14 under par, Thomas made what may be the most important par-putt of his career: a five-plus footer on the iconic 17th hole to secure a one shot lead heading into the final hole.
That lead would extend to two after Westwood, who’d watched Thomas make his tester, missed his own five footer, just minutes later, to fall back to 12 under. Bryson DeChambeau, meanwhile, made birdie to move to 12 under, himself.
Holding a two shot lead teeing off on 18, Thomas played a risky tee ball that stopped dangerously close to the water’s edge. After a solid approach, however, and two putts, Thomas remained at 14 under, and two clear of both DeChambeau and Westwood – who now needed hole-out eagles on the final hole to force a playoff.
Once those miracle shots failed, The PLAYERS champion was Justin Thomas.
It was the Kentucky native’s first title of the 2021 campaign, and 14th of his already historic career.
With the victory, Thomas earned $2,700,000 and 600 FedExCup points. He will move to No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, and No.1 on the money list. He also picked up 80 Official World Golf Ranking points and will move to No. 2.
Westwood, who made a terrific birdie on the final hole, claimed sole possession of second-place on 13-under par. It was the second consecutive week on Tour that the Englishman finished runner-up.
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Name: Justin Louis Thomas
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 165 lb
Birthdate: April 29, 1993 (age 27)
Native: Louisville, Kentucky
Resides: Goshen, Kentucky
Final Scores: Top 5
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Justin Thomas -14 (-4)
2. Lee Westwood -13 (E)
3. Bryson DeChambeau -12 (-1)
3. Brian Harman -12 (-3)
5. Talor Gooch -11 (-5)
5. Paul Casey -11 (-2)
Justin Thomas’ Winning Stats
Driving: 295.1 (T33)
Fairways: 34/56, 60.71% (T62)
Greens: 52/72, 72.22% (T25)
Putts/Per GIR: 89/1.712 (T20)
Scores: 2 Eagles, 21 Birdies, 40 Pars, 7 Bogeys, 2 Doubles
Off the Tee: 3.453 (10th)
Approach the Green: 6.404 (5th)
Putting: 1.632 (42nd)
Tee to Green: 12.873 (1st)
Total: 14.506 (1st)
Thomas’ Winning Highlights
Thomas’ 2020-21 Season
Cuts Made: 8
Wins: 1 (The PLAYERS)
Additional Top 10: 4
Earnings: $5,372,189 (1)
FedExCup Pts: 1,497 (2)
World Rank Before/After: 3/2
Thomas’ Career Victories
PGA Tour: 14
2021 The PLAYERS Championship
2020 WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational
2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions
2019 CJ Cup
2019 BMW Championship
2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
2018 Honda Classic
2017 CJ Cup
2017 Dell Technologies Championship
2017 PGA Championship
2017 Sony Open in Hawaii
2017 SBS Tournament of Champions
2016 CIMB Classic
2015 CIMB Classic
WITB: Justin Thomas
Driver: Titleist TS3 (9.5°)
3 Wood: Titleist TS3 (15°)
5 Wood: Titleist 915FD (18°)
Irons: Titleist T100 (4)
Irons: Titleist 718 MB (5-PW)
Gap Wedges: Vokey SM7 (46°, 52°)
Sand Wedge: Vokey SM7 (56˚)
Lob Wedge: Vokey SM6 (60˚)
Putter: Scotty Cameron X5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Money & Points
With his win, Thomas earned $2,700,000 and 600 FedExCup points. He will move to No. 1 on the PGA Tour’s money list and No. 2 in the points standings.
Thomas also received 80 OWGR points to move to No. 2 in the world rankings. He was previously at No. 3.
Q: J.T., after Friday you were seven shots back and came out and shot a 64 Saturday and then followed it up with a 68 today. Just this weekend and battling back, just how you sum this up and what this victory means.
JUSTIN THOMAS: “It means a lot, obviously. It’s a huge championship, very special. It’s a tournament I’ve wanted to win, a tournament that I truly did feel like I was going to win at some point, and hopefully multiple times.
“I love the golf course. It was in incredible shape this week. The greens were so good. The fairways were perfect. Rough was long. Just a great test of golf. I mean, that’s why it’s a PLAYERS Championship.
“I tried to stay patient. I felt like the last three holes on Friday changed the momentum for us for the tournament.
“Birdieing 16 and then that birdie on 18 was huge, and getting a little bit of momentum and kind of rode that into Saturday and obviously had a great day. And then today it was about trying to get into position and then hang on from there.”
Credits: Getty Images, PGA Tour Media