Justin Thomas admits he surprised himself with odds-defying PGA Championship comeback win

Thomas admitted to CNN’s Don Riddell after the event that it was 1.2% more than he would have given himself.

Against all odds, the 29-year-old dazzled with a round-best three-under 67 to put himself within a shot of leader Mito Pereira.

A disastrous double bogey on the 18th for the Chilean left the fate of the Wanamaker Trophy to a playoff between Thomas and fellow American Will Zalatoris, with Thomas holding his nerve over three holes to clinch the second major of his career.

In doing so, he completed the joint third-largest 54-hole comeback in major history. Only Paul Lawrie and Jack Burke Jr, trailing by 10 and 8 shots at the 1999 British Open and 1956 Masters respectively, had overturned greater deficits, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

As a spectacular solo performance on Sunday coincided with Pereira’s late dip, the stars aligned for Thomas to pull off a comeback of historic proportions.

“When you’re that far behind in a major, you can’t do it all yourself — you need some help,” he said. “I understood that it was going be tough for those guys just as it was for me to try to win the tournament. I executed when I needed to and it was just enough.”

Triumph at Southern Hills Country Club ended a five-year wait for a major victory for Thomas, having lifted the Wanamaker Trophy at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte in 2017.

A serial winner on the PGA Tour with 15 victories to his name, Thomas is no stranger to silverware, but even he didn’t expect to wait so long to taste more major glory.

“When it (winning a major) happens you think it’s gonna happen the next time you play — you really do,” he said. “When things are going well, especially in this sport, it’s easy. The ball bounces the right way, the putts slip in, guys do what you need them to do in the leaderboard — stuff just happens.

“But when it’s not going well, you have no idea if and when it’s gonna happen again and over five years I’ve definitely had a lot of those moments. I’m just very, very glad to be back here now.”

Thomas prepares to play his second shot on the 18th hole of the sudden-death play-off.


With the US and British Open championships on the horizon for June and July, Thomas will be hoping that his Tulsa triumph could spark a memorable summer. And looking forward to those events, Thomas believes that simply playing each shot as it comes could hold the key to more silverware.

“Obviously, I know and think that if I play well I should and could have a chance to win,” Thomas said. “But I can’t necessarily go in saying I expect to win because I just have to take it for what it is.

“I have to be a little bit more hole-and-shot oriented as opposed to the entire-week oriented because if I do the things I’m supposed to do as the week goes on, I could be sitting here more often.”

For now though, the only thing an exhausted Thomas is really looking forward to is a good rest.

“It’s a lot, I don’t think it’s really set in,” he said.

“I know all the emotions and excitement has definitely hit me in terms of crashing — I’m very tired and worn out, but I’m very excited.”


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