US PGA Championship: Justin Thomas beats Will Zalatoris in a play-off

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Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas trailed chief Mito Pereira by seven pictures heading into the ultimate spherical
-5 J Thomas (US), W Zalatoris; -4 M Pereira (Chi); -3 T Fleetwood (Eng), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), C Kirk (US); -2 R McIlroy (NI)
Selected others: Level J Rose (Eng), T Hatton (Eng); +2 S Lowry (Ire); +3 B Watson (US); +4 J Spieth (US);

American Justin Thomas staged a record-equalling fightback earlier than beating Will Zalatoris in a play-off to win the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Thomas trailed by seven at the beginning of the day however posted a three-under 67 to set the clubhouse goal at 5 beneath.

Chile’s Mito Pereira seemed set to win a first main title however double-bogeyed the 18th after hitting his tee shot into a creek to complete at 4 beneath.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick (73) and Tommy Fleetwood (67) ended three beneath.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who led the match after the opening day, closed with a 68 to complete eighth at two beneath par in Oklahoma.

Thomas was one over after six holes on Sunday however had 4 birdies in his last 10 holes to fireplace his option to the highest of the leaderboard, with Zalatoris hanging on to additionally end on 5 beneath par and capitalise on Pereira’s capitulation.

But it was the world quantity 9 who prevailed in the three-hole shootout, making a decisive birdie on the seventeenth to say his second main after additionally successful this occasion in 2017.

“It was a weird day,” mentioned Thomas, who equalled John Mahaffey’s file of coming from seven behind to win the 1978 US PGA title, additionally in a play-off, at Oakmont.

“Bones [Thomas’ caddie] did an unbelievable job of simply holding me in the second. We simply tried to play the golf course for what it’s..

“It’s humorous, I used to be requested earlier in the week about what lead is protected, and I mentioned, ‘no lead’. This place is so powerful. But should you hit the fairways you may make birdies and I stayed so affected person, I simply could not consider I discovered myself in a play-off.”

Pereira’s goals crumble

Mito Pereira
Mito Pereira hoped to grow to be the primary South American to win the Wanamaker Trophy

The nerve-shredding moments that can outline Pereira’s early profession got here on the seventeenth inexperienced and 18th tee.

A birdie putt that might have handed him a two-shot lead happening the final got here up a couple of centimetres quick earlier than his drive a few moments later discovered the water, in the end sinking the world primary hundred’s hopes of changing into the primary Chilean to win a main title.

As his ball was settling in the creek, Zalatoris rolled in a gutsy par putt to match Thomas on 5 beneath, whereas the previous champion instantly headed to the driving vary in preparation for a play-off.

Pereira solely made the change from the PGA Tour’s feeder Korn Ferry Tour final summer time together with his greatest end of 2022 earlier than this occasion a share of thirteenth eventually month’s Texas Open, however he began the day with a three-stroke lead over Fitzpatrick on simply his second main begin.

Zalatoris, additionally a relative newcomer however now with 5 top-10s in eight main begins, had wiped that out by the point he reached the sixth tee, solely to bogey the difficult par-three gap in weird circumstances.

An errant tee shot led to a 15-minute dialogue with a guidelines official over the place to drop his ball however he made a excellent up-and-down from the cart path.

From there it turned a grind for the leaders, with Pereira nearly holding his nostril in entrance regardless of Cameron Young briefly becoming a member of the lead and Thomas showing on the horizon due to his bogey-free again 9.

That was till the 18th, the place Pereira’s unravelling led to a double-bogey six that noticed him miss out on the play-off, leaving Zalatoris and Thomas to scrap it out over three holes.

Both birdied the par-five thirteenth earlier than Thomas drove the inexperienced on the 302-yard seventeenth and two-putted for a birdie that Zalatoris couldn’t match, earlier than holding his nerve with a par on the 18th to clinch his second Wanamaker Trophy.

“I’ve been knocking on the door in these majors for a couple of minutes and one’s going to return quickly,” mentioned Zalatoris. “To come up one quick, it stings, however I do know we’ll get one quickly.”

Fitzpatrick fails to make up floor

Fitzpatrick, taking part in in the ultimate pairing, started the day with real hope he might grow to be the primary Englishman to win the championship since Jim Barnes in 1919.

That was dampened when the 27-year-old bogeyed his opening gap and regardless of cancelling that out with a birdie on the fourth, he performed himself out of the combination with additional dropped pictures at six, 10 and 11.

With these forward of him toiling, Fitzpatrick greeted a birdie on the fifteenth with a enormous fist pump in the data he was as soon as once more two strokes off the lead, just for a bogey at 17 to kill off his probabilities because the Yorkshireman signed for a three-over 73 that took him to 3 beneath for the match.

“It’s powerful to take,” mentioned Fitzpatrick. “I simply did not hit very effectively, wasn’t a good day. It’s disappointing realizing that you just’re two pictures outdoors of a play-off and you’re feeling such as you’ve acquired the sport to make the play-off and go on to win.

“I shoot degree par and I win it outright. If somebody had mentioned that earlier than the spherical, I’d have totally ready myself to do this. You know your goal and get it round. It wasn’t the day that I needed and it’s what it’s sadly.”

Compatriot Fleetwood additionally completed at three beneath and McIlroy was one additional again however they left Southern Hills in very completely different moods – Fleetwood buoyant after 5 birdies in his last seven holes, McIlroy rueing one other missed alternative.

McIlroy had ended spherical one with a one-stroke lead after carding a 65, bucking his latest development in majors of beginning gradual, however the harm for the four-time main champion was completed with a one-over 71 on Friday, adopted by a 74 on Saturday.

When McIlroy holed 4 successive birdies from the second, it seemed like he is likely to be placing collectively a comparable last spherical to the one he compiled on the Masters in April, however that run ended with a bogey on the par-three sixth – which he had double-bogeyed 24 hours earlier.

The 33-year-old didn’t card one other birdie in a two-under 68 and left the course with out chatting with the media.

Fleetwood, in the meantime, made seven birdies in a final-day 67 that additionally included 4 straight bogeys by way of the flip to climb into a shock share of fifth.

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