No doubting Thomas' heroics

American Justin Thomas, 23, has won three of his last four events.
American Justin Thomas, 23, has won three of his last four events.

He completes wire-to-wire win at Sony Open in record style with lowest 72-hole score

LOS ANGELES • Justin Thomas made more history on Sunday at the Sony Open, firing a five-under 65 to set the PGA Tour's lowest 72-hole score at 253 as he clinched victory at the Waialae Country Club.

The 23-year-old overcame a slow start for a second straight day before five birdies in seven holes helped him seal a wire-to-wire win.

"It has been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable," he said.

He started his round with a seven-shot lead and cruised to victory, finishing seven strokes ahead of runner-up Justin Rose of Britain.

Thomas is off to one of the best starts in PGA Tour history.

He has won three of his last four tournaments. That includes a sweep of the Tour's Hawaii swing as he becomes the first golfer since South African Ernie Els in 2003 to win the Tournament of Champions and Honolulu's Sony Open back-to-back.

Olympic gold medallist Rose closed with a 64 to reach a 20-under 260 total. Former world No. 1 Jordan Spieth finished third with a 63 to finish at 19-under, eight shots back of his fellow American.

Thomas' epic performance last week started and ended with him making history in Hawaii.

He became the youngest on the Tour to shoot a 59 in the first round, then shot a 64 to set the 36-hole record in the second round, continued with a 65 to tie the 54-hole record on Saturday and then set the 72-hole mark for the title.

Tommy Armour held the previous 72-hole record with a 254 at the par-70 La Cantera Resort course at the 2003 Texas Open.

"It is pretty unbelievable what JT is doing now," said Spieth. "He is showing the world what he is capable of."

Thomas was aware of the record.

"I told (my caddie Jimmy Johnson) with two holes left, 'We need to get one of these last two'."

He signed off in style, making birdie at the par-five 18th.

In addition to claiming his first PGA Tour victory at the 2015 CIMB Classic, he posted six other top-10 finishes last season, winding up third four times - in the Frys.com Open, the Honda Classic, the Players Championship and the Travelers Championship.

The American was also sixth in the Tour Championship and is feeling the satisfaction of turning those previous close calls into victories this season.

"I didn't do a lot this off-season," he said. "I wanted to get away from the game. But the time I did spend working, I worked hard and I was trying to work on my negatives so that weeks like this were more in reach."

Thomas had a birdie burst around the turn as he rolled in four starting at the par-four eighth hole. His only bogey of the day came at the par-three fourth.

"The last 10-hole stretch I was very comfortable, I just tried to stay patient," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2017, with the headline 'No doubting Thomas' heroics'. Print Edition | Subscribe