Justin Thomas sealed a well deserved victory at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, with a three-hole playoff that capped his dramatic rally on the last Sunday of play.
Thomas started seven strokes behind on Sunday, having shot 4 over 74 in the third round. His performance on Sunday matched that of fellow American Will Zalatoris, at 3-under, ending the day at 5-under. In the lead was Chile’s Mito Pereira of Chile, who started the day on 9-under, but as he faded on the back nine, including doubling the 18th hole, it was just the two Americans left in the playoff.
Thomas said after the event: “I was asked earlier in the week about what lead is safe, and I said no lead. This place is so tough but if you hit the fairways, you can make birdies, and I stayed so patient, and I just couldn’t believe I found myself in a playoff.”
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Both Americans parred the 13th hole, each scoring birdie putts, but on the par-4 18th, Thomas reached the green with his second, while Zalatoris’ shot rolled back to the edge. Thomas’s two-putt from there was enough to win him his second PGA title.
Thomas’ seven-shot comeback was enough to tie with John Mahaffey’s 1978 performance as the biggest in PGA Championship history, also tying as the third-largest comeback in any major tournament. It brings back memories of Thomas’ first PGA Championship win in 2017, when he came from two strokes back to win at Quail Hollow.
29-year-old Justin Thomas now ranks fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings. He was the top-ranked U.S. golfer at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where he finished in a tie for 22nd.
Fitness monitor company Whoop put Thomas’s win down to getting a good night’s sleep before the event – the company shared an Instagram graphic of his recovery statistics the week of the PGA Championship, showing how valuable a good night’s sleep is to the 15-time PGA Tour winner. Early in the week, allergies were impacting Thomas’ ability to recover, so he proactively shifted his practice schedule to prioritize sleep right before competitive play began. On the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, his sleep scores then all hit “green,” indicating that his body had properly recovered from the prior day’s physical activity, according to Whoop’s algorithm.
In a comment on the same Instagram post the day following his historic win, Thomas jokingly wrote, “44% recovery this morning … I’ll take it!”