PGA Championship: In the Southern Hills play-off, Justin Thomas defeats Will Zalatoris in a thrilling major triumph

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PGA Championship
Source: arabnews.com

PGA Championship: Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship in a play-off after a thrilling final-round comeback that saw him take advantage of Mito Pereira’s final-hole implosion.

Thomas shot a three-under 67 at Southern Hills to tie the largest final-day comeback in tournament history, with four birdies over his final ten holes to set the clubhouse target at five under.

Zalatoris recorded a final-round 71 to match Thomas’ goal, and the two advanced to a three-hole play-off when Pereira, who had led the entire tournament and had a one-shot lead going into the 72nd hole, struck water off the final tee on his route to a costly double-bogey.

The play-off began at the par-five 13th, where the two leaders traded birdies, before Thomas took the lead when he drove the par-four 17th hole for a two-putt victory.

Thomas two-putted for his first major victory since winning the Wanamaker Trophy in 2017. Zalatoris missed from eight feet to match Thomas’ birdie on the second play-off hole, then was unable to convert from distance on the third, played on the tough 18th.

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Pereira started the day three shots ahead of the field and extended his lead when Matt Fitzpatrick bogeyed the first, only for the Chilean to miss from six feet to save par on the third and lose his one-shot lead when Zalatoris made back-to-back birdies from the fourth.

Fitzpatrick scored a close-range birdie at the fourth but couldn’t capitalise at the par-three fifth, where Pereira picked up a stroke to go two up, while Zalatoris scrambled a bogey at the sixth after sending his tee shot into the woods.

Due to the delay in dealing with Zalatoris’ drop, Fitzpatrick had to wait a long time off the sixth tee, making bogey after finding water off the tee, while Pereira made back-to-back bogeys from the seventh, but saved par at the ninth and reached the turn one ahead.

Pereira struggled to start his back nine with consecutive pars, but couldn’t save par from eight feet at the 12th, while Fitzpatrick made back-to-back bogeys from the 10th, and Thomas followed a massive birdie at the 11th by holing from 15 feet at the next to come within two.

Young temporarily shared the lead until a bogey at the 14th reduced him to five under par alongside Zalatoris, while Pereira took a two-stroke lead with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 13th.

Young’s hopes were dashed when he made a three-putt double-bogey on the par-four 16th, and Fitzpatrick was eliminated when he bogeyed the 17th, while Thomas set the clubhouse goal at five under after losing a golden birdie opportunity on the 72nd.

After bogeying the 16th, Zalatoris birdied the next and holed an eight-footer to save par at the last, putting him in a play-off with Thomas. Pereira hit water off the final tee on his way to a double-bogey six, putting the pair in a play-off.

Pereira’s late blunder dropped him into a tie for third place with Cameron Young, while Matt Fitzpatrick’s final-round 73 tied him for fifth place with Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Kirk.

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