Justin Thomas takes world No1 with victory in Memphis

American put on an impressive performance down the stretch to see off Brooks Koepka

Justin Thomas with his father and coach, Mike Thomas, after winning the World Golf Championship-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Justin Thomas with his father and coach, Mike Thomas, after winning the World Golf Championship-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

 

Justin Thomas clinched his 13th PGA Tour victory on Sunday, winning the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational by a three-stroke margin and claiming the world number-one ranking in the process.

The 27-year-old American put up a near-flawless, five-under par 65 to win at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, with a four-way tie for second place between Americans Daniel Berger, Phil Mickelson and returning champion Brooks Koepka, as well as England’s Tom Lewis.

Shane Lowry made a brilliant par on the 18th after driving in the water to sign for a round of 67 – his fourth in the 60s for the week – and finish in a tie for sixth at nine under par.

It represents the Offalyman’s best performance since the PGA Tour restarted in June and his third shot to the 18th, after taking a drop, left him just two feet to save his par and complete a bogey-free round which also included three birdies at the third, eighth and 16th.

Lowry will now hope to take that form into this week’s first Major of the year – the US PGA Championship at Harding Park.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy’s final round of 67 will also offer him some encouragement after a frustrating week where two rounds of 73 – on Thursday and Saturday – put paid to his chances. However, on Sunday he went around blemish-free with birdies at the first, the 12th and the 17th to finish in a tie for 47th at one under par. Graeme McDowell finished two shots better off after a closing round of 69 which included four birdies, a bogey and a double bogey.

At the top, Thomas and Koepka, who were 202 and 201 through 54 holes, respectively, went toe-to-toe in the final round, with Koepka draining a more than 39-foot putt for birdie on 17.

But Thomas, who locked in four birdies on the front nine, kept his nerve for the win, his first since the tour returned from a coronavirus hiatus.

The win cut short Jon Rahm’s reign at the top of the rankings, with the 25-year-old Spaniard spending just two weeks as the world number one.

“It was a hard-fought day,” said Thomas. “Besides that terrible wedge on 12, I played so well for 14 holes. I drove the ball just perfectly ... I realistically could have birdied my first 10 holes today and that is kind of bizarre to say.”

Any hope Koepka had of claiming a last-minute victory evaporated on 18, as he drove his ball into the water for a double-bogey.

“I feel good. I feel like my game’s right there, everything’s solid. I hit a lot of good putts today, just didn’t go in,” said Koepka. “Obviously drained a big one on 17 and then you’re down one. You’ve got to take an aggressive line on 18, so it is what it is.”

An electrifying performance with five birdies on the front nine helped Lewis (66) to surge up the leaderboard in early play on Sunday, after he carded nine-under par 61 on Saturday, but a pair of bogeys on 13 and 17 had him settling for second.

Brendon Todd, the leader heading into Sunday, carded a disastrous five-over par 75, losing his edge and shooting three straight bogeys on 13 through 15.

Rickie Fowler started the day in contention for the win but finished the final round with a disappointing three-over par 73, thwarting his attempt to pick up his first PGA Tour victory since last year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Collated final scores & totals in the World Golf Championships — FedEx St Jude Invitational, TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America (USA unless stated, par 70):

267 Justin Thomas 66 70 66 65

270 Brooks Koepka 62 71 68 69, Phil Mickelson 67 70 66 67, Daniel Berger 71 67 67 65, Tom Lewis (Eng) 73 70 61 66

271 Jason Day (Aus) 68 67 69 67, Xander Schauffele 68 70 67 66, Shane Lowry (Irl) 68 69 67 67, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 68 67 68 68, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 64 69 68, Chez Reavie 66 67 70 68

272 Dustin Johnson 69 68 68 67, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 68 65 66 73, Webb Simpson 69 66 69 68

273 Scottie Scheffler 69 67 69 68, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 67 75 65 66, Brendon Todd 64 65 69 75, Ryan Palmer 69 69 71 64, Rickie Fowler 64 67 69 73

274 Joel Dahmen 72 67 65 70, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 68 71 67 68, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 71 69 64 70, Collin Morikawa 70 71 67 66, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 71 70 68 65

275 Billy Horschel 70 70 68 67, Bubba Watson 68 70 71 66, Matt Kuchar 66 72 71 66, Cameron Champ 71 68 67 69, Kevin Kisner 70 68 72 65

276 JT Poston 70 68 70 68, Andrew Landry 70 72 66 68, Bryson DeChambeau 67 73 69 67, Jordan Spieth 68 69 68 71, Corey Conners (Can) 72 68 66 70

277 Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 68 70 70 69, Patrick Cantlay 73 72 65 67, Kevin Streelman 71 66 71 69, Kevin Na 72 64 74 67, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 72 67 73 65, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 67 71 68 71, Nick Taylor (Can) 69 70 67 71, Sungjae Im (Kor) 67 68 69 73, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 69 70 69

278 Jason Kokrak 69 68 71 70, Sung Kang (Kor) 65 69 72 72, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 68 71 70 69

279 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 73 66 73 67, Patrick Reed 71 69 69 70

280 Matthew Wolff 69 74 65 72, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 71 73 69 67, Tyler Duncan 74 70 66 70

281 Keegan Bradley 68 70 70 73, Max Homa 66 73 72 70, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 73 73 68 67, Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 69 69 73, Jon Rahm (Spa) 70 74 71 66

282 Michael Thompson 70 74 69 69, Gary Woodland 71 69 73 69

283 Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 75 71 68 69, Cameron Smith (Aus) 72 72 71 68, Matt Wallace (Eng) 72 71 73 67, Matt Jones (Aus) 71 72 69 71, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 67 75 72 69, Robert Macintyre (Sco) 71 73 69 70

284 Tony Finau 70 68 72 74, Victor Perez (Fra) 73 71 70 70

285 Paul Casey (Eng) 71 78 69 67, Brandt Snedeker 73 71 72 69

287 Ian Poulter (Eng) 73 69 72 73, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 72 69 73 73, Danny Willett (Eng) 69 70 74 74

288 Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 72 74 70 72, Adam Hadwin (Can) 73 71 75 69

289 Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 71 73 75 70

290 Haotong Li (Chn) 68 73 74 75, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 73 76 72 69

291 Sebastian Soderberg (Swe) 72 71 75 73

295 Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 73 74 76 72

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