Justin Thomas' historic comeback wins 99th PGA Championship
Justin Thomas wins the 99th PGA Championship
Justin Thomas (73-66-69-68, 276) posted a closing 3-under 68 to win the 99th PGA Championship by two shots at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. Thomas, 24, entered play Sunday two shots back and in a tie for fourth place, but three birdies on his inward 9 eventually secured the first major championship of his career. Thomas, who finished at 8-under-par, kickstarted his back-nine surge with an 8-foot-birdie putt on No. 10 that hung on the lip of the hole for nearly 10 seconds before gravity intervened. Three holes later, he buried a 40-foot greenside chip at 13 to increase his advantage to two shots. A successful 15-foot birdie putt on No. 17 all but clinched the Wanamaker Trophy. Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Patrick Reed finished in a tie for second at 6-under, 278.
He's the son and grandson of PGA Professionals
Thomas’ PGA Championship victory Sunday at Quail Hollow is simply the latest chapter in what is his family’s business: golf. Thomas became the eighth PGA Champion who is the son of a PGA Professional. His father, 57-year-old PGA Master Professional Mike Thomas, is the PGA Head Professional at Harmony Landing Golf Course in Goshen, Kentucky. Justin’s grandfather, Paul, is an 85-year-old retired PGA Life Member who lives in Columbus, Ohio. Paul joined the PGA of America in 1956.
First things first
For the third consecutive year, the PGA Champion yielded a first-time major winner in Thomas. In 2015 at Whistling Straits, Jason Day claimed his first major, and last year, in 2016, Jimmy Walker broke through at Baltusrol.
A trio of 20-somethings claimed the season’s final three major championships: Thomas (Age: 24/PGA Championship), Jordan Spieth (Age: 23/The Open), and Brooks Koepka (Age: 27/U.S. Open).
It was just a matter of time
Patrick Reed’s finish — a tie for second along with Francesco Molinari and Louis Oosthuizen — was the best finish of his career in a major championship. It was also Reed’s first Top 10 in a major. Meanwhile, this was the fourth time that Oosthuizen finished with at least a piece of second place in a major (also 2015 Open; 2015 U.S. Open; 2012 Masters). The Top 5 finish was the first of Molinari's career in a major championship.
Quail Hollow proves to be a major test
Twelve players at the 2017 PGA Championship finished under par, the fewest since the 2009 PGA Championship at Hazeltine National when only nine players ended the week in red numbers.
After dropping a stroke each at holes 11, 12 and 17 during round one, Thomas played the back nine bogey-free over the final three rounds until his 72nd hole, when the Championship was out of reach.
NO. 1 this week, NO. 2 from Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky-born Thomas joins 1964 Champion Bobby Nichols as the only PGA Champions from the state of Kentucky. Nichols, also from Louisville, defeated Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer at Columbus (Ohio) Country Club in the 46th PGA Championship.
Thomas, 24, is the fifth twenty-something to win the PGA Championship over the past seven years. He joins Keegan Bradley (24, 2011), Rory McIlroy (23, 2012; 25, 2014) and Jason Day (27, 2015).
Thomas joined a short list for largest comeback following a round one position.
Another strong showing for club professional Omar Uresti
2017 PGA Professional Champion Omar Uresti finished off a memorable week at Quail Hollow with a 2-over-par 73 on Sunday. Uresti, 49, was the Low PGA Club Professional at the 99th PGA Championship. He posted rounds of 74-70-80-73 to finish at 297 and in a tie for 73rd place. Uresti was the first PGA Club Professional to make the cut at the PGA Championship since Brian Gaffney did the same at Whistling Straits in 2015.
Savio Nazareth savors day as 'Playing Marker'
Reigning Carolinas PGA Section Champion Savio Nazareth of Greensboro, North Carolina, served as a Playing Marker Sunday morning in the 99th PGA Championship for Charles Howell III. Nazareth, 38, got a call Saturday night while vacuuming the golf shop floor at Starmount Forest Country Club. A “playing marker” is a non-competitor in an event, who serves as the official scorekeeper for a Championship competitor. A rapid chain of events followed for Nazareth, a PGA Assistant Professional and a native of Tanzania. He got permission from his employer to travel to Charlotte, a 90-minute drive, and after several calls located his caddie, Andrew Westmoreland of Greensboro.
Nazareth, who competed in June in the 50th PGA Professional Championship, will be competing next week in the PGA TOUR’s Wyndham Championship. With just a short warmup on the practice range, Nazareth posted a 5-over-par 76.