Golf: Justin Thomas rides his luck in regulation to win Tournament of Champions on third play-off hole

Justin Thomas celebrates after winning the Tournament of Champions golf tournament in Hawaii on Jan 5, 2020. PHOTO: KYLE TERADA/USA TODAY SPORTS VIA REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Justin Thomas said he "got very lucky" after botching the last hole in regulation but holding on to win the Tournament of Champions in a play-off on Sunday (Jan 5), edging out Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele for his 12th US PGA Tour title.

The 26-year-old American birdied the third extra hole to beat Reed after defending champion Schauffele had been eliminated with a three-putt par on the first play-off green.

World No. 4 Thomas stuck his third shot three feet from the pin at the par-five 18th on the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii, to set up an easy birdie and watched as Reed missed his seven-foot putt to extend the play-off.

All three had finished 72 holes with 14-under totals of 278 after Thomas, who enjoyed a two-shot lead with three to play, bogeyed two of the last three holes.

He fell back to 15-under at the 16th before his three-wood second shot at No. 18 found the thigh-high grass in a penalty area on his way to a bogey in a four-under final round of 69.

Playing partner Schauffele, the world No. 8, reached the green in two, but missed a seven-foot birdie putt for victory, carding a three-under 70.

Reed, ranked 11th, was already in the clubhouse on 14-under after capping a bogey-free seven-under 66 with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole.

Reed, the 2018 US Masters champion, had putts to win on each of the first two play-off holes but was unable to get efforts from 30 feet and 12 feet to drop.

"For some reason I was supposed to win this week," Thomas said. "I got very, very lucky to have that putt.

"But I also stuck to my process," said Thomas, who like the entire field in the winners-only event dealt with challenging, gusty winds for a fourth straight day.

"I truly felt like through 15 holes it was one of the best rounds I ever played," said Thomas who started the day one stroke off Schauffele's lead and pulled level with a birdie at the eighth where Schauffele bogeyed.

Disaster at No. 18

He kept the accelerator down with birdies at Nos. 9, 10 and 11, and added two more at the 14th and 15th - where his putt through the fringe circled the cup before rattling in.

"I was in such control tee to green, I was putting it beautifully, my irons were awesome," Thomas said. "I hit a really good drive on 16, just the wind took it more.

"Eighteen," he admitted, "was just a disaster.

"But it worked out, so I guess I can't complain," Thomas concluded.

Schauffele said Thomas' run of six birdies in eight holes was astonishing, especially given the windy conditions.

"He was hitting ridiculous shots, making good putts in the wind, and he deserved the lead he got," said the 26-year-old, who has now lost two of three play-offs.

But he was disappointed that he did not take advantage of his own opportunity.

"I should have won the tournament," Schauffele said.

"I mean, JT was right there, but with the circumstances given I should have closed it up and I didn't."

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