Players’ Championship: Justin Thomas beats Lee Westwood to victory
|-14 J Thomas (United States); -13 El Westwood (M); -12 B Deschambeau (US), B Harman (US); -11 B Casey (engineer), T. Gooch (US); -10 C.Conners (Canada),|
|Others selected:-9 S Lowry (IR); -8 M Fitzpatrick (engineer), S. Garcia (spa); -1 Dee Johnson (US), J Speth (US)|
Justin Thomas appeared on a tumultuous final day to win the Players’ Championship with one stroke as Lee Westwood finished second for the second week in a row.
The world number three has produced some exciting golf games to score four players under the age of 68 as they go back from three to win their 14th title on the PGA Tour at under 14.
Westwood led his way to the Sunday competition at TPC Sawgrass, but returned after wobbly at the ninth lead.
He finished one ahead of Bryson Deschamps, who defeated him last week.
American Brian Harman made three birds with his back nine to also score twice in the back at 12 below par.
England’s Paul Casey threatened to compete but his five birds were compensated with three ghosts to leave him at level 11 below the tournament.
American Talor Goetsch also finished three times the pace set by 27-year-old Thomas, with Canadian Corey Konners trailing.
Thomas Muscle in the Final Showdown
It was billed as a rematch, as Westwood and DeChambeau were head-to-head in the final set for the second week in a row on the PGA Tour.
The American grabbed a one-stroke win at the Arnold Palmer Invitation seven days ago, but it was Westwood that got off to a quick start on Sunday as it opened with a bird.
What followed was insanity. Westwood found the water in a second and panicked, before cutting his fourth-place tee to another water hazard, but only after DeChambeau – the tallest driver on a run – topped him by throwing 100 yards into a different body of water.
After that, DeChambeau squished his third shot on the trolley track before recovering nicely to escape with a double ghost, while Westwood only arranged one shot of his own.
The world number six finished seventh before both fell again at eight, but when Westwood regained the lead with two shots from a well-made bird, it seemed that at nine the rest of the field seemed to have failed to take advantage of their struggles.
What did not stop the new competition in golf is the sudden appearance of the third-ranked Thomas in the world, who snatched eighth place but rose to the top after becoming a bird, bird, eagle, bird to 14 below par after 12 and give himself a double lead.
Thomas had worked his way up the feud with the eight U-64 on Saturday, then admitting that he had seen “a fair share of declines this season” and “a lot of mental things that I never had to deal with.”
The American was shot down by clothing brand Ralph Lauren after television microphones picked him up with anti-gay slurs during a Century Tour of Champions in Hawaii in January, while he also lost his grandfather earlier this year.
An uncharacteristic hit at 14, his first from a distance of three feet this season, was missed and saw his superiority to one before Westwood equaled with a superb bird at 14, only for Thomas to keep his nerve and edge again with a bird at 16.
US Open champion Deschamps launched the same hole to move inside two Thomas’ but couldn’t close the gap further and was left to lament his early double ghost.
Westwood has won 44 professional championships, racked up victories over four different decades, and won the title of merit in the European Tour for the third time in December to become the oldest champion in a race to Dubai.
But the 47-year-old has not won the PGA Tour since June 2010 at St. Pit and title players all gone.
Thomas grabbed a draw at 18 to sign 68, and despite Westwood eventually making a bird, he scored his first win since the WGC-St Jude Invitational in August.
Thomas said, “It’s been a long year, but they (my family) always support me.” “When you’re in a mentally difficult situation or not feeling well, having a support system like this is huge.”
Westwood is heading to Augusta to recover
Westwood, who will turn 48 next month, looked relaxed during his final performance career, with girlfriend Helen Story in his bag, but said he felt age was catching up with him on his last day in Florida.
The number 31 will recover on the world by taking his son Sam to play 36 holes at Augusta National for the first time this week. Sam will then be a Westwood boxer on the Masters program next month.
“When you’re in competition, you want to win every tournament you play in,” said Westwood, who was 72 on Sunday the only time he failed to break a tie all week.
“I didn’t quite own my game – on Saturday I felt my legs were a little tired and weak, [on Sunday] I didn’t feel like I put my legs under me. I was shooting shots that I wouldn’t normally hit.
“I fought all day, did some great punches, and a slight disappointment that I didn’t win, but you can’t be very unhappy with a second place in the Players’ Championship.
“It just shows that I’m playing really well and my game is still good enough to win here. There’s something I’m working on that I hope to recharge the battery and keep this running.”