In a three-way playoff with Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele, preceded by 72nd hole that almost spelt doom on him, Justin Thomas managed to clinch the PGA Tour's Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday.
Thomas scored the win with a three-foot birdie at the third extra hole, the par-five 18th, in Maui's Kapalua Plantation course.
Playoff with Reed and Schauffele
Schauffele was eliminated at the first hole of sudden death while Reed fell two holes later as the 26-year-old Thomas earned his 12th PGA Tour victory. He had one hand on the trophy with a one-shot lead playing the final hole of regulation but hooked his three-wood second shot into a penalty area and could not find his ball in the waist-high tropical grass.
He made a bogey for a four-under-par 69, while Schauffele had a three-putt par, missing a seven-footer for the win, and carded 70. They fell into a playoff with Reed, who earlier shot 66, at 14-under 278.
"For some reason I was supposed to win this week," Thomas said in a greenside interview after sinking his winning putt in semi-darkness. Reed three-putted the second extra hole from the fringe and then missed an eight-foot birdie at the third playoff hole, his mood hardly helped when a spectator screamed "cheater" as his ball slid by the hole.
"Through 15 holes it was one of the best rounds I've ever played. I was in such control, tee to green, putting beautiful, my irons were awesome and then 18 was a disaster. It worked out so I can't complain."
Should have won last year
Reed has been in the spotlight since being hit with a two-stroke penalty for improving his lie in a waste bunker during last month's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. "I know I'm good enough to hang with the best. I just need to be a little smarter when the time is right and I would have closed it out."
Schauffele, who had been on the verge of successfully defending his title, said that she should have won it. "I know it, everyone knows it. I should have closed it out and didn't. I kind of did everything I was supposed to until the last moment," he said.
(With inputs from agencies)