Justin Thomas claimed a maiden Major Championship as the American soared to a two-stroke victory at the US PGA Championship in a thrilling final day, during which Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed both made charges towards the title before finishing tied for second alongside Louis Oosthuizen.
Thomas was certainly a crowd favourite at Quail Hollow Club and he undoubtedly provided the most memorable moments in a finale which was set alight when his birdie putt at the ninth hole sat on the cup for eight seconds before falling to rapturous roars from the galleries.
That took the 24 year old to the turn in one under before he followed that drama immediately with a second successive birdie at the tenth. The momentum was with the Kentucky player at that stage as the crowds descended on the penultimate group of which he was a part, and two more birdies at the 13th and 17th lifted him three shots clear heading down the last.
After finding a fairway bunker with his final tee shot, Thomas’s nerveless approach left him with four putts to win and a bogey five rounded off a memorable three under final round 68 for an eight under total.
Molinari, meanwhile, put himself in the mix with a stunning 67 which began with a flawless two under par front nine before the Italian followed a disappointing bogey at the par five tenth with four birdies in five holes. Another dropped shot at the 16th, however, put paid to his chances.
His fellow European Tour Member Reed joined him in second place soon after, the American carding four birdies in six holes early on for a two under front nine before picking up a shot each at the tenth, 14th and 15th to move within reach, before a bogey at the last for a 67 and a six under total.
Oosthuizen holed a huge putt at the last to join them in a share of the runner-up spot. Jordan Smith’s incredible rise through the ranks reached heady new heights as the Englishman finished with a 68 to claim a top ten on his Major debut.
“It was a crazy day. It had to be an unbelievable watching today in terms of spectating and sitting at home watching on TV.
“I forget what hole it was, I think walking up to the 12th green, there were maybe five of us at seven under. I had no idea it was that close. I kind of thought Hideki and I were at around 7 or 8 or whatever he wasand then some other guys.
“Then I saw Patrick Reed was playing well. I saw Rickie was kind of making a run. I saw Francesco was up there, and then obviously Kisner and Stroud behind us. To see that was kind of crazy. And then that chip-in on 13 was probably the most berserk I’ve ever gone on the golf course. I’m kind of interested to see how I looked for that. It was nice.
“It was something that obviously as a kid growing up, being a golf fan, you want to win all the majors. You want to win any major. For me, the PGA Championship definitely had a special place in my heart, and maybe a special drive, I guess you could say. Like I said, I want to win every tournament I play in. I want to try to win every major.”
“It was a great day, I started very well with a birdie at the first. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the leaders. I thought maybe seven or eight under would have been the winning score. But I gave it a go. It’s a shame about 16, but I hit a really good putt and just missed on the left and I’m very, very proud of the way I played today.
“I had to look at the leaderboard on 13, and where I was at more or less, I saw that I needed at least two more birdies. Seven or eight under was looking likely to be the winning score. So I gave it my best and I’m very happy with what I did.
“It was great. Obviously yesterday I had a really bad start and it was pretty hard to recover from that. So that adds to the satisfaction after today.
“It would have been nice to start the day maybe a couple of shots closer to the leaders, but it was great getting to the last three holes tied for the lead. It’s what you practice for and what you train for. Hopefully I’ll get more soon.”
“Really the opening nine was a tiring one. I hit a great drive on number one and missed the green but got up-and-down for par. I feel like I hit some pretty solid shots on two and walked off with bogey. Then I went on my run where I birdied three, and almost holed out, and I almost made a hole-in-one on four and tapped in for birdie.
“It’s one of those rounds, that front nine, where it’s just kind of up-and-down the whole day. At the end of the day, there were just too many missed putts today. A lot of putts burned edges and really the biggest thing is Friday – to only hit five greens in 18 holes and to somehow only hit one green through 12 holes and be one-over par. I was scrambling like crazy.
“I was making a lot of great up-and-downs, but it’s hard to win a golf tournament, especially a major, if you only hit five greens in one day.”
“I didn’t really make any putts the whole round. The only putt I made was on the last hole. Two loose shots on ten and 11 probably cost me one, maybe two shots.
“I gave it everything I had coming in. I left myself with an impossible first putt on 16 and could have done better than that, but three-putted. And then I hit it close on 17, trying to make birdie. I hit one good putt on 18 though. My arm was tight this morning and we worked that out and it was fine.”
276 Justin Thomas
278 Francesco Molinari; Louis Oosthuizen; Patrick Reed
279 Rickie Fowler; Hideki Matsuyama
280 Graham DeLaet; Kevin Kisner
283 Jason Day; Matt Kuchar; Jordan Smith; Chris Stroud
284 Scott Brown; Paul Casey; James Hahn; Brian Harman; Dustin Johnson; Brooks Koepka; Marc Leishman; Ryan Moore; Henrik Stenson
285 Rory McIlroy; Grayson Murray; Ian Poulter; Chez Reavie; Robert Streb; Gary Woodland
286 Byeong Hun An; J.B. Holmes; Pat Perez; Jordan Spieth; Richard Sterne
287 Keegan Bradley; Patrick Cantlay; Bud Cauley; Kevin Chappell; Bryson DeChambeau; Lucas Glover; Jason Kokrak; Jamie Lovemark; Sean O’Hair; Webb Simpson; Chris Wood
288 Tony Finau; Jim Herman; Sung Kang; Thorbjørn Olesen
289 Charley Hoffman; Billy Horschel; Zach Johnson; Satoshi Kodaira; Shane Lowry; Charl Schwartzel
290 Ryan Fox; Bill Haas; D.A. Points; Steve Stricker
291 Jason Dufner; Kelly Kraft; Jon Rahm
292 Tommy Fleetwood; Adam Scott
293 Dylan Frittelli; Cody Gribble; David Lingmerth
294 Vijay Singh
295 K.T. Kim; Alex Noren; Hideto Tanihara; Lee Westwood
296 Russell Henley; Daniel Summerhays
297Charles Howell III; Omar Uresti
299 Anirban Lahiri