- In a three-hole playoff, Thomas beats Will Zalatoris.
- Mito Pereira suffers heartbreak with a double-bogey on the 72nd hole.
Justin Thomas is certain to be on any list of probable big title contenders. Yet, by the time the final putt of the PGA Championship was completed on Sunday, he appeared to be an unlikely winner.
Thomas overcame a seven-stroke deficit at the start of the round and had plenty of energy left for a tremendous tee shot in the subsequent playoff.
Thomas won the PGA Championship for the second time, defeating Will Zalatoris in extra holes at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
His playoff shot from the 17th tee might be talked about for a long time. The shot landed on the green at the 302-yard par 4, and he was in command after two putts.
“That was a nice one. I hit a beautiful shot (there) in regulation,” Thomas said. “For it to go up the green (in the playoff) was nice to put probably a little bit of heat on Will.”
Thomas, a Kentucky native who also won the event in 2017, began the day seven strokes behind Chile’s Mito Pereira. He tied for the largest 54-hole comeback in PGA Championship history.
The 29-year-old fired a 3-under-par 67 to finish at 5 under, a mark matched by Zalatoris (71).
“It was a bizarre day,” Thomas stated, adding that his round featured a shanked shot. “Although I was so far back, there wasn’t that many guys ahead of me, and it’s a very tough golf course and anything could happen.”
In the playoffs, Thomas and Zalatoris were assigned the positions 13, 17, and 18. They both birdied the par-5 13th before Thomas took the lead with a birdie on the following hole. He had a tap-in par at the 18th to reclaim the Wanamaker Trophy.
I’ll play those holes at 1 under any day of the week and J.T. happened to play in 2 (under),” Zalatoris said. “I hit a great putt on 17. … Hats off to J.T. He’s been due for a while to get another win, let alone a major.”
Zalatoris continues to wait. He finished second in a major for the second time, as well as second in the 2021 Masters.
“Pretty excited where my game is at for sure,” Zalatoris said. “I know I’m going to get one. Just a matter of time.”
Pereira, who led or shared the lead for the majority of the final two rounds, headed to the 18th tee with a one-shot lead. However, his tee shot struck a water hazard, resulting in a double bogey and a final-round 75. At 4 under, he tied for third place with Cameron Young (71).
“It’s difficult to end like that,” Pereira said. “A fantastic week… Just needed to whack it a little harder.”
Thomas’ 67 matched the day’s low round of 67. He shot 4 under par during a nine-hole run ending on the 17th, but his final hole was par.
Zalatoris, the 36-hole leader, hit a crucial par putt on the 18th hole to stay level with Thomas. Despite this, they were each a shot behind the leaders when Pereira stumbled.
“I struggled like hell all day,” Zalatoris explained.
Pereira started the round with a three-shot lead, but slipped into a tie with Zalatoris before regaining his advantage. Pereira later tripped again, falling into a tie with Young at 6 under.
But it was Thomas, a former world No. 1 player, who proved to be the most dangerous. He was the only golfer among the late candidates to have won on the PGA Tour.
It was a heartbreaking end to a remarkable week for Pereira, who was making his PGA Championship debut and had risen from No. 100 to No. 49 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I don’t know what happened. I thought I hit it really good,” the 27-year-old said of his last tee shot. “… On Monday, I just wanted to make the cut. On Sunday, I just wanted to win.”
Young and Zalatoris, who were Wake Forest teammates and played in a final-round pair, were hindered by mistakes on No. 16. Young was only one stroke behind when he made a double bogey. Zalatoris then bogeyed a par putt from inside 5 feet.
Chris Kirk (68), Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick (73) and Tommy Fleetwood (67) tied for fifth place at 3 under. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who led after the first round, rebounded with a final-round 68 to finish ninth at 2 under.
Tiger Woods did not play on the final day, as he withdrew for the first time in a major in an announcement made after the third round on Saturday. After the third round, Woods was 12 over par and tied for 76th.