Of course, any major would have been terrific, but Justin Thomas winning the PGA Championship added extra luster.
Thomas, from Goshen, Ky., got to spend time around the PGA Tour growing up because his father was heavily involved with PGA of America. Mike Thomas once served as a national board member and had been an official at both the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup.
So that birdie on the 17th hole at Quail Hollow Club, all but clinching the title, was euphoria family-style.
“To have my dad here, and let alone a PGA (title),” Thomas said in the post-tournament news conference. “To have him here, and my mom and my girlfriend? That’s great.”
Thomas started the day at 5-under. By the end he was alone at 8-under, despite a bogey on No. 18.
There was a three-way tie for second at 6-under, between Italy’s Francesco Molinari, Patrick Reed of The Woodlands, Texas, and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa.
Thomas had six birdies in his final round, none more dramatic than hole No. 10, a par 5. Thomas’ putt rolled to the edge of the cup. He stared for a few seconds, then turned away from the hole, just as the ball slipped in.
Thomas’ first hole Sunday was nearly a disaster. He hit into a bunker and finished with a bogey. It was oh-so-close to a double-bogey.
“The putt on 1 was pretty big,” Thomas recalled. “Starting with a double would have been pretty terrible.”
Kevin Kisner of Aiken, S.C., led going into the final round, playing a low-risk style that served him well on a course surrounded with gnarly Bermuda-grass rough.
Kisner would have had to make up two stokes on the final hole, so he had little to lose chasing an eagle on No. 18 that would have forced a playoff. His drive found a creek that ended his chance for a first major title.
“It was probably my best swing of the day, just pure, and I looked up and it just hooked early. Just came down right in the water,” said Kisner.
At 5-10 and 165 pounds, Kisner can’t match his bigger competitors for pure power. So he had to outthink them to be in contention.
“I didn’t make the putts that I have been making the first two days over the weekend. A lot of misses inside of 10 feet, and at some point, length is going to catch up with me,” Kisner said.
“Guys hitting it 30 feet by me have an advantage if I’m not hitting putts inside 10 feet.”
Five who mattered
Grayson Murray: Raleigh resident played his way into one of the last three groups before four late bogeys left him 1-over for the tournament.
Rickie Fowler: Still without a major title, but he scored four consecutive birdies over his last seven holes.
Louis Oosthiizen: Scored an eagle on No. 15 for a tie for second.
Hideki Matsuyama: His chances blew up with five bogeys over the last six holes.
Rory McIlroy: Will his back injury knock him out for the rest of the year?
▪ Clearly, Quail Hollow will want to take a look at the green on hole No. 4, considering all the complaining the players did about good shots rolling off their marks.
▪ Considering the week-long weather report back on Monday, suspending play just once in four rounds was a victory.
▪ Sunday was slightly milder than Saturday, but the humidity was still rough on the course.
▪ Korean K.T. Kim was out of contention at 7-over starting Sunday, but he put on a show with two eagles before finishing with a double-bogey and two bogeys.
▪ The expression on Thomas’ face when that ball finally tipped into the cup on No. 10 will be the image of the tournament.
▪ Measured as Kevin Kisner was over the first three rounds, he had nothing substantial to lose trying to score an eagle on 18.
▪ Eleven U.S. players finished even-par or better for the tournament.
▪ Charlotte’s Webb Simpson ended up 3-over after a birdie 2 on the 17th hole.
By the numbers
67 Best final-round score among those who shot at least even-par for the tournament.
5 Number of strokes over par Chris Stroud shot Sunday, after entering the final round 6-under.
2024 The next year not yet awarded to host the PGA Championship.
They said it
“It’s all due to what happened right before Augusta, slipping and hurting my back.” – Dustin Johnson on how missing the Masters has thrown off his play this summer.
“These two weeks take a lot out of you. It was hot We had delays. They were long days.” – Jordan Spieth.
“Dream come true: The final group on Sunday at the PGA Championship. Absolutely unbelievable.” – Chris Stroud, who had to win last week to get into the field.