2022 PGA Championship: Justin Thomas shows poise by taking advantage of a valuable opportunity to win the second major championship

Tulsa, Okla. Big tournaments are precious. There are about 550 singles bids to win the biggest events of the year but only four titles have been handed out over the course of several months. Less than 1% of those who apply in the four majors stay away from it altogether.

For a while at the 2022 PGA Championship, it looked as if someone would walk away not only satisfied but also shocked. Going into Sunday’s final round at Southern Hills Country Club, which was hosting a major tournament for the eighth time, the top four places on the leaderboard – Mito Pereira, Matt Fitzpatrick, Will Xalatores and Cameron Young – combined for no PGA Tour wins and only five of the top 10 in their professional life.

Sunday’s win would have changed the lives of any of the four. For three-quarters of that group, their Korn Ferry Tour days are still so refreshing that absorbing this huge moment must feel like they’re trying to catch the water with their own hands.

Justin Thomas knew it.

After a 67-67-74 shot with a stunning volleying display that had less mechanical action than the technical standings was, he had seven strokes back into the final round on Sunday. However, he was more optimistic than he thought.

“I just remember how hard it was, and I remember how hard it was to win now,” Thomas said. “So, I knew I was going to be nervous, and I knew they were going to feel the exact same thing.”

JT played late Thursday and early Friday in a wave that was stronger by two strokes from the other side. He played golf so well for the first two days that he beat all but one player in that tie by five strokes.

Everything was a show. Thomas moved his ball with so much self-confidence early in the week that it looked as though Jim “Bones” McKay was guiding it with a remote control. Most modern players choose to paint by numbers. When Thomas is looking for a wide range of brushes at his disposal, you can also free up space in the museum.

However, going into the weekend was delayed by that difficult tie. It’ll get worse before it gets better He left him 74 on Saturday in the 2-under and T7, seven behind Pereira, the 54-hole leader. Thomas was buried on the board. It looked as if one of the few real, amazing chances he had to win a major had been missed before it was fully realized.

Thomas was among the last men on the field on Saturday night, but was more upbeat than anticipated after 74 seemed to rip one of those few valuable kicks into another big cup from some of the best hands in professional golf.

He hit balls for a while and received encouraging words from Bones, who told JT he needed to stop being self-absorbed. Thomas seemed to take it seriously. He ended Saturday with flag-by-flag signing of long-suffering children who had waited all day hoping for his signature.

“I left here in a great state of mind,” Thomas said. “I suspect [I was] Another player here. …it was very peaceful. It was kinda weird how beautiful it was outside, and there weren’t many times after shooting 4 on Saturday I left him in as good a state of mind as I did [here]. ”

Thomas started Sunday lightly and fired a par 35 in the front nine. After making equality in no. 10 To stay at Level 2 less than a week, Data Golf set a 0.4% probability of winning. In other words, it would be a miracle.

Then something happened that reminds everyone of his last big win, the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow. The GT ran a 65-foot shot at a number. 11, half bowed to the audience and bowed his hat. It was a comeback from a birdie on his last tour the last time he won the Wanamaker Cup.

Thomas Bearded no. 12 also then missed Birdie Putt at No. 12. 15 that would demolish the house. I felt at the time that it would be a shot viewed with regret.

Flying up and down the par-4 17 driving car – this bone said It was harder than it looks – I got my JT under No. 5 with a solid number. 18 hanging. Thomas tore that high cutter off the tee and hit a championship-caliber iron on the right pin.

“It’s great,” said Thomas. “I don’t know, really, how to describe it otherwise. I mean, the iron bullet is 18 in the regulations, like, that’s why I play golf. Like, that’s why I train. All the hours and everything and time, you want to be in that scenario. You want Being in this situation.With the background of the entire show in there, knowing that I’m in conflict.

“It’s hard to explain, but it kind of feels like all-body goosebumps.”

Thomas somehow missed a hit that felt costly again. Play Nos. 17 and 18 as possible, but he didn’t know if his third 67 in four rounds would be enough. JT made his way to the scoring tent – where he leaned leggy-spaced at a table as club captain at 5 Under – to watch theatrical performances roll behind him at the track.

Before moving to a more private area to watch the end of the tournament, Thomas looked up and nobody in particular said, “Hope the best, man.”

he got it.

Zalatoris finished first in ninth with a clutch bird at the finish to screech at home alongside Thomas in the 5-under.

After Pereira, who played the first seven holes in the back nine-in-one, left a birdie strike on No. 17 laps one short distance from the cup, the 54-hole leader went to 18th in need of a tie to win. His driving into the final hole of the championship sounded like a swing and prompted someone I was walking to say, “It looked like he had been electrocuted on impact.”

Pereira made a file double ghost broken heart On 18 the qualifiers were completely missed.

Everything happens quickly at the end of the majors.

Thomas was carried away to the other end of the driving range from where he hit players all week. There was no hatch to be found.

CBS anchor Colt Nost fed him game after game as game ended on the list. From there, he was put on a cart and taken to the thirteenth tee box where the three-hole playoff began.

Meanwhile, an impromptu show erupted. Cheers “JT! JT!” Mixed with the special scent you only get in major companies – a mix of mud, sweat and hamburger smoke. He settled in the playoffs.

Thomas and Zalatores exchanged the fifteenth bird. Mike, JT’s father, seemed ready to raise the roof in front of the crowd that surrounded this green.

Just like that, a mid-level major major suddenly became an instant classic.

As Thomas walked into the seventeenth day, a spectator shouted, “Mama, that’s a bad guy.” that was before GT hit the championship shot on a second-to-last hole: a high-hanging rocket flipped itself, hit the front of the green and settled 34 feet from the cup. He put two for a bird while Zalatoris par.

Bones got JT’s ear in the 18th jersey as the famous Draymond Green-Kevin Durant GIF, and Thomas delivered another punch or two to par on the toughest hole of the week.

Completed the third largest 54-hole comeback in Grand Slam history – and the biggest this century. Zalatoris took off his hat and clapped his hands from a distance as the normally quiet Thomas collapsed.

“I think it’s hard to win,” Thomas said when asked about feelings afterward. “Like, it is. I legitimately think winning is harder now than it was when I first came out on tour. … I think it’s easy to start letting some doubt creep in and kind of be [think]like, ‘Okay, what’s going to happen? When is that going to happen?’ he is it will happen?

“I was 18 in qualifying, and I knew it wasn’t over, but I looked for it and wanted to be in it because you don’t know when and if it was going to happen again. It’s unbelievable, a great feeling that you just want to enjoy.”

Grand is precious. There are a few of them and many top players vying to get back home. As Thomas entered into his closing kick on Sunday, first-round leader Rory McIlroy told CBS Sports that “depression” was the primary emotion he experienced after finishing eighth on the final leaderboard and letting his winning bid slip away.

Thomas has learned how few opportunities there are in the years between his 2017 PGA Championship and this one, hence his passion on 18th. After winning your first major at the age of 24, it always feels as if it’s going to start flowing. And then they didn’t.

The past five years have brought about a string of unbelievable heroes. Scotty Sheffler, John Ram, Colin Moriqua, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Kupka, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau have all won at least one win since Thomas won his last – two of them more than one.

In his career, even top golfers might get a few real runs on Sunday afternoons at the majors. If they are lucky.

As Thomas worked his way up to the club after finishing with a score of 275 on the list, he bypassed the PGA of America staff responsible for handling the massive Wanamaker Trophy.

Wearing a polo shirt and jacket, the coach carried this 27-pound, 28-inch trophy while Thomas climbed up next to him. The cup is wrapped in a protective blue velvet cover. Not quite the time.

For another 20 minutes, that moment seemed to be a metaphor for Thomas’ day and this period of his career.

He’s played very well for several years with no big game to show for it. He played great for three days in a row and really bad for one. The men holding the trophy walked down the hill towards those still ahead of Thomas on the unfinished leaderboard.

No one took off the cup cover, and JT took the playoffs.

By the time he walked no. 18 For the second time on Sunday, Wanamaker was revealed for all to see. It mirrored the receding sun over Oklahoma, which saw Tiger Woods’ last major championship win in 2007.

Thomas was still a teenager at the time, and the idea that he and Tiger would be good friends someday was definitely an unfathomable dream at the time. Now, they are the last two golfers to win major championships at Southern Hills.

As Thomas made his way through the crowd of people surrounding No. 18, the cup sat uncovered shining and waiting to be held.

JT had another valuable specialty.

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