Thomas fired up for PGA C'ship defence

AKRON (Ohio) • Winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday had put Justin Thomas in a "great place mentally" and arrived at the perfect time as he gears up to defend the PGA Championship title starting on Thursday.

The 25-year-old showed his game and mind are both in peak form as he stayed clear of the field for a comfortable four-stroke victory in Akron, Ohio.

The American started the final round with a three-shot cushion and was never seriously challenged, a one-under 69 more than enough to clinch his first World Golf Championships event and ninth PGA Tour title.

He finished at 15-under 265 at Firestone, while compatriot Kyle Stanley carded a 68 for second place on 11 under.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen shot a 64 and tied for third on 10 under.

"I take a lot of pride in how I played today," Thomas said.

"I was very nervous going in. With a three-shot lead, I knew I needed to play well but I had a little bit of wiggle room.

"My goal today was trying to get to 18 under, because I knew if I got to that, I didn't think anyone would catch me. I played well enough to do that, but didn't make many putts. I'm in a great place mentally right now. I was so patient and calm all week."

The victory was especially special for Thomas, who added that he got "a little choked up" when he saw his grandparents in the crowd. Grandfather Paul also played at Firestone, in the 1960 PGA Championship.

"They don't get to come out very often any more. This is my first PGA Tour win with them here, so it's pretty cool," Thomas said after joining Johnson and Bubba Watson as three-time winners on the circuit this season.

Tiger Woods carded his second straight 73 to finish with a share of 31st. The 14-time Major winner's last nine holes saw two double bogeys, three bogeys, three birdies and just one par.

"It was either going to be 62 or 72 or something in the mid-70s. I was just trying to be as aggressive as possible and fire at everything," the 42-year-old said.

The championship moves to Memphis next year, ending a long run at Firestone.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'Thomas fired up for PGA C'ship defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe