Justin Thomas claims US PGA crown after Mito Pereira implosion on 18th

Chilean golfer needed just a par on the last to secure victroy but carved drive into water

Unfortunately Mito Pereira’s painful implosion will prove more memorable than victory for Justin Thomas.

Pereira stood on the 18th tee in the final round of this US PGA Championship with the making of history in his grasp. There had never been a Chilean major winner before. There still has not; Pereira, needing par for victory, carved a tetchy drive into a water hazard. An 18-handicap golfer would have been dismayed by the shot.

Pereira’s double-bogey six did not even allow him the consolation of a playoff. That took place between Thomas and Will Zalatoris after they had tied at five under par. This tournament proved the slowest of burners but high drama was worth the wait.

For Thomas, US PGA glory for the second time. A terrific drive to within 40ft of the pin at the par-four 17th, the second playoff hole, was key to victory. He outscored Zalatoris by one over holes 13, 17 and 18. In regulation play, Thomas’s closing 67 was superior to Zalatoris by four.

Pereira, to his great credit, accepted every interview request. “Today I was really nervous,” admitted the world number 100. “I tried to handle it a little bit but it was really tough. I thought I was going to win on 18, but it is what it is. We’ll have another one.” Good on him.

Matt Fitzpatrick, seeking to become the first Englishman since 1919 to win this event, finished two strokes shy of the playoff after a closing 73. “It is tough to take but I just didn’t hit the ball very well,” said Fitzpatrick.

Thomas blasted himself into contention with a birdie putt from 65ft that found the bottom of the hole at the 11th. The 2017 champion collected another shot at the 12th. As those ahead slipped and stumbled, Thomas was the man to watch. He had head in hands after missing a decent opportunity at the 15th, which he assumed was a significant moment. Still, he refused to give in. A birdie three at the penultimate hole edged him to within one of Pereira. At the last, Thomas missed from 10ft to tie Pereira but salvation was not far away.

Tommy Fleetwood’s stunning back nine of 31, including four birdies in a row from the 14th, meant a top-10 finish. This marks Fleetwood’s finest major finish since the 2019 Open. Fleetwood has encountered his fair share of on-course struggles since Shane Lowry prevailed at Royal Portrush.

“The Masters this year was my best finish that I’ve ever had in a Masters; this is the best finish I’ve ever had at the PGA,” Fleetwood said. “If I can keep that train going, the other two should be decent major weeks.

“Part of life is you have your good times and your bad times. I’ve never stopped working. I’ve always tried my best. I’ve always felt like I’ve been working really hard. I think everybody that gets to a certain level, with the right information, is by far good enough to come out the other side.”

Rory McIlroy began day four sitting nine shots from the lead and with no apparent chance of winning his fifth major. Hopes were raised of a famous McIlroy victory as he produced birdies at the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. The run was halted by a bogey at the 6th and run of 10 pars before another dropped shot at the 17th.

That McIlroy did not stop for media duties suggested he was seriously stung by the playing out of this tournament after an opening 65. Saturday’s 74 was where the real damage was done; largely by McIlroy playing the 6th and 11th – par threes – in a combined five over. A closing 68 left McIlroy two under par.

Shane Lowry closed out his tournament with a 69 for 282, which at least had the effect of moving him to tied-23rd. His round was a remarkable one in that it featured 17 pars and a lone birdie from 15 feet on the par-three 11th. Lowry managed to keep big numbers off his scorecard but could only find that one birdie in his round.

Seamus Power capped an impressive weekend with a somewhat frustrating two over 72, finishing up in a tie for ninth..

Justin Rose admitted his recent form had been poor, which added value to a fourth-round 68 for an even-par total. “It helps the confidence,” Rose said. “You can do all the work in the world but you need to get out and play tournament golf. You need to feel the mini-butterflies you get out there.”

As a tense battle ensued at the head of proceedings, it felt appropriate to remember how Tiger Woods used to close out major wins with a minimum of fuss. There has been no update from Woods after the PGA of America announced his withdrawal from this event after 54 holes. Whether he is of suitable physical condition to feature in next month’s US Open remains open to debate.

- Guardian

Collated final round scores in the The PGA Championship Southern Hills CC, Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States of America

(USA unless stated, Par 70):

275 Justin Thomas 67 67 74 67, Will Zalatoris 66 65 73 71

276 Guillermo Mito Pereira (Chi) 68 64 69 75, Cameron Young 71 67 67 71

277 Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 69 67 73, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 71 70 69 67, Chris Kirk 68 70 71 68

278 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 65 71 74 68

279 Abraham Ancer (Mex) 67 69 70 73, Tom Hoge 66 74 70 69, Seamus Power (Irl) 71 69 67 72, Brendan Steele 70 72 69 68

280 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 70 68 74 68, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 68 73 68 71, Max Homa 70 69 70 71, Davis Riley 68 68 73 71, Justin Rose (Eng) 71 70 71 68, Xander Schauffele 68 73 69 70, Cameron Smith (Aus) 68 70 73 69

281 Sam Burns 71 67 71 72, Talor Gooch 69 70 74 68, Webb Simpson 69 75 65 72

282 Stewart Cink 69 68 71 74, Rickie Fowler 71 70 71 70, Lucas Glover 75 69 68 70, Shane Lowry (Irl) 70 72 71 69, Kevin Na 68 71 72 71, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 68 71 72 71, Aaron Wise 69 72 71 70

283 Adria Arnaus (Spa) 72 68 70 73, Tony Finau 69 72 74 68, Bubba Watson 72 63 73 75, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 72 67 74 70

284 Brian Harman 74 70 71 69, Matt Kuchar 67 71 73 73, Marc Leishman (Aus) 72 71 73 68, Keith Mitchell 72 72 72 68, Patrick Reed 69 70 73 72, Jordan Spieth 72 69 74 69, Gary Woodland 70 68 71 75

285 Viktor Hovland (Nor) 70 70 75 70, Kyoung-Hoon Lee (Kor) 69 73 71 72, Luke List 74 70 71 70, Troy Merritt 73 70 72 70, Kevin Streelman 71 72 75 67, Cameron Tringale 72 68 72 73, Adam Schenk 71 72 72 70

286 Keegan Bradley 72 70 73 71, Laurie Canter (Eng) 72 70 70 74, Cameron Davis (Aus) 72 72 72 70, Jon Rahm (Spa) 73 69 76 68, Harold Varner III 71 71 72 72, Denny McCarthy 73 68 74 71

287 Ryan Fox (Nzl) 70 70 70 77

288 Jason Day (Aus) 71 72 72 73, Brooks Koepka 75 67 72 74, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 72 75 71, Collin Morikawa 72 72 74 70, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 74 70 69 75

289 Lanto Griffin 72 69 75 73, Russell Henley 70 73 70 76, Rikuya Hoshino (Jpn) 74 70 69 76, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 71 72 76 70, Jason Kokrak 74 68 77 70, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 72 72 72 73, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 73 71 73 72, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 71 73 73 72

290 Billy Horschel 75 69 77 69

291 Kramer Hickok 71 71 75 74, Beau Hossler 69 71 78 73

292 Justin Harding (Rsa) 71 72 75 74, Adam Hadwin (Can) 73 71 75 73, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 71 72 74 75, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 69 73 77 73

295 Patton Kizzire 69 75 78 73, Maverick McNealy 73 71 78 73

297 Robert MacIntyre (Sco) 70 71 80 76

298 Sepp Straka (Aut) 71 72 79 76

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