WASHINGTON: Justin Thomas captured his 10th career US PGA title on Sunday (Monday in Manila), holding off fellow American Patrick Cantlay down the back nine to win the BMW Championship in record-smashing fashion.
The 2017 PGA Championship winner seized his first triumph since last year’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational, defeating Cantlay by three strokes, and claimed the top spot in the US PGA playoff point standings entering next week’s season-ending Tour Championship.
“I was really nervous today,” said Thomas, who began the day with a six-stroke advantage. “It’s hard to play with the lead. I was enjoying it though.
“I forgot how hard it is to win. That’s why it has taken this long. I’ve been working hard to get back to it and it feels great.”
Thomas fired a four-under par 68 to finish 72 holes at Medinah on 25-under 263, shattering the former mark of 23-under at the 116-year-old event shared by American Dustin Johnson and Australian Marc Leishman.
Thomas birdied four of the last eight holes at the suburban Chicago layout to fend off Cantlay, who closed with birdies on four of the last six holes and nine birdies in all.
“I just stayed patient,” Thomas said. Patrick made that very interesting. I hit the ball so bad to start the day. I couldn’t hit a fairway. That was a hard start.”
After seeing his lead shrink to two shots, Thomas landed his approach two feet from the cup at 11 to set up a birdie and surged to the finish.
Thomas, who won the 2017 FedEx Cup playoff crown, made himself the player to beat in next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
Thomas will start at 10-under par with a two-stroke lead over second-place point producer Cantlay in next week’s event under a new points format that ensures the tournament winner will capture the playoff crown.
For Thomas, that means sitting on a lead for four days before he swings a club.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama finished third on 268 after his second 63 in three days, a third-round 73 spoiling his title bid. He needed only 20 putts Sunday.
American Tony Finau finished fourth on 270, one shot ahead of countryman Brandt Snedeker and Spain’s Jon Rahm.
But Finau’s 69 was not enough for him to overtake Bryson DeChambeau for the final automatic berth on the US team for December’s Presidents Cup in Australia, qualifying for which ended Sunday.
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263 – Justin Thomas 65-69-61-68
266 – Patrick Cantlay 66-67-68-65
268 – Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 69-63-73-63
270 – Tony Finau 67-66-68-69
272 – Jon Rahm (ESP) 68-69-66-69, Brandt Snedeker 66-71-67-68
273 – Lucas Glover 66-69-69-69, Corey Conners (CAN) 69-66-69-69
274 – Adam Scott (AUS) 67-71-69-67, Kevin Kisner 68-68-69-69
275 – Im Sung-jae (KOR) 70-72-66-67, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 70-69-68-68, Tommy Fleetwood 70-66-70-69, Kevin Tway 69-67-70-69, Rickie Fowler 67-70-68-70
276 – Vaughn Taylor 73-70-67-66, J.T. Poston 68-74-66-68, Rory Sabbatini (SVK) 67-68-67-74
277 – Marc Leishman (AUS) 72-71-67-67, Jason Kokrak 65-73-70-69, Patrick Reed 68-71-68-70, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 69-67-70-71, Xander Schauffele 67-68-70-72
278 – Webb Simpson 70-72-67-69, Brooks Koepka 68-71-72-67, Paul Casey (ENG) 70-70-67-71, Joel Dahmen 66-71-69-72
279 – An Byeong-hun (KOR) 71-70-69-69, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 68-72-69-70, Kim Si-woo (KOR) 70-67-71-71