Thomas holds off Koepka to win WGC in Memphis, reclaim No. 1

Thomas holds off Koepka to win WGC in Memphis, reclaim No. 1

Thomas holds off Koepka to win WGC in Memphis, reclaim No. 1

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Justin Thomas wants to make his second stint as No. 1 in the world last longer than the first time around.

“I hope so,” Thomas said Sunday after winning the FedEx St. Jude Invitational to take the No. 1 spot for the first time since June 2018. “I feel like I’m a better player, and I feel like I’m more complete of a golfer now than I was then.”

Thomas dueled defending champion Brooks Koepka down the final holes, sealing the World Golf Championship victory on the par-5 16th. Thomas took the lead for good with his second straight birdie, while Koepka bogeyed the hole.

Koepka pulled within a stroke with a 39-footer for birdie on No. 17. But Koepka put his tee shot into the water along the 18th fairway on his way to double bogey, allowing Thomas to finish up an easy par putt for what wound up a three-stroke victory.

Thomas closed with a 5-under 66 to finish at 13-under 267 and take the $10.5 million winner’s check for his 13th PGA Tour title. At 27, he became the third-youngest player since 1960 to reach 13 PGA Tour wins, trailing only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a good career so far, but I plan on playing out here for a long time and have a lot of things that I still want to accomplish,” Thomas said. “And every milestone and steppingstone is hopefully something that I can learn from and something that will help me even more in the long run.”

One sign of Thomas’ growth was this was the fifth time he rallied to win, and he matched his biggest comeback after starting the day four strokes back of third-round leader Brendon Todd. Thomas has three wins this season, two since the start of the year.

The last time Thomas was No. 1, he spent four weeks at the top of the ranking. He will supplant Jon Rahm, who became No. 1 after winning at Memorial two weeks ago and tied for 52nd this week.

Koepka will go to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco looking to defend his PGA championship title, and he said he’s feeling good about how he’s playing. He finished with a 69 and tied for second with Phil Mickelson (67), Daniel Berger (65) and Tom Lewis (66).

“I thought I hit a good chip on 16,” Koepka said. “I don’t know what it did. Then another minute I thought it was in for another second. So to make bogey there was disappointing. Obviously drained a big one on 17, and then you’re down one. You’ve got to take an aggressive line on 18, so it is what it is.”

Thomas had Jim “Bones” Mackay on his bag, playing in the same group with Mickelson for the first time since Mickelson split with his longtime caddie. Mackay was a late fill-in for Thomas’ usual caddie, Jimmy Johnson.

“I feel like he knows enough about my game to where he can contribute and be a help, and he was,” Thomas said about Mackay.

Thomas made up the deficit with four birdies on the front nine and just missed another birdie chance on No. 8. His 20-footer on No. 9 tied Todd at 12 under.

Todd, whose putting had carried him through the first three rounds, three-putted for bogey from 23 feet on the par-3 eighth, leaving Thomas alone atop the leaderboard.

Thomas put his second on the par-4 12th into a greenside bunker near the back edge and chopped it out to the rough. He chipped out from an awkward stance to salvage bogey.

That created a five-way tie at 11 under with Koepka, Berger, Lewis and Todd.

Koepka took the lead to himself on the par-4 13th. He hit his approach from 133 yards to 10 feet of the pin, and Koepka sunk the putt for his third birdie of the round to go to 12 under.

After hitting his tee shot 321 yards to the rough 51 yards short of the hole on No. 15, Thomas hit to 6 feet for a birdie, tying Koepka at 12 under with three to play. Thomas found the rough far right of the cart path on the par-5 16th, then hit his third from the left rough 65 yards to 3 feet for his second straight birdie.

Koepka, in the group behind Thomas, tried to answer 42 yards from the hole. His shot landed close to the hole only to keep rolling to the back of the green. Koepka wound up two-putting from 8 feet for bogey.

Finishing on No. 18, Thomas made sure to avoid any danger before Koepka’s final birdie.

“I saw that I had a two-shot lead, hence the reason I hit it right of the universe,” Thomas said of a tee shot that went right of the cart path. “It was not going left, I promise you that.”

Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., was the top Canadian, firing a 70 to finish in a tie for 30th at 4 under. Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., (71) was 3 under, Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., (69) was 2 under, while Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin (69) finished 8 over.

DIVOTS: Berger qualified for the U.S. Open with his fifth top 10 finish to go along with his victory at Colonial in June.

___

More AP golf: https://apnews.com/apf-Golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Teresa M. Walker, The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The concept design for the spray park and playground in Pogadl Park. (Photo Courtesy of Canadian Recreation Solutions)
Sylvan Lake spray park tentatively scheduled to open next year

Sylvan Lake Town Council approved the tender of the spray park and playground in Pogadl Park

Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Albertans need to keep making safe choices to start bending the curve back down. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
One new COVID-19 death in Red Deer, 257 additional cases province-wide

Red Deer sits at 459 active cases of the virus

One of the oil paintings stolen from a season home near the boat launch on Kuusamo Krest. (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake RCMP search for paintings stolen from vacation home

Three original paintings were reportedly stolen from a seasonal home

A lone skater practises his shot on a melting outdoor rink recently. As of March 2, all outdoor skating rinks, including the ones on the lake, are closed for the season. (Photo Submitted by Town of Sylvan Lake)
All outdoor skating rinks in Sylvan Lake closed for the season

The Town announced Tuesday morning the rinks on the lake were also closed due to the warm weather

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

hands
The call is out in Rimbey to sign on with a group that is all about building connections

‘Already, we are building a network where we can rely on each other and help each other out’

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Many rural seniors are having to travel a long way to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Stettler residents are being told to go to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose. (Black Press file photo).
Rural central Alberta seniors have to travel far to get vaccines

Stettler residents are being directed to Red Deer, Drumheller or Camrose clinics

Samantha Sharpe, 25, was stabbed to death at Sunchild First Nation on Dec. 12, 2018. Chelsey Lagrelle was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for manslaughter in a Red Deer courtroom on Tuesday. Photo contributed
Central Alberta woman sentenced to 4 1/2 years for stabbing friend to death in 2018

Chelsey Lagrelle earlier pleaded guilty to stabbing Samantha Sharpe during argument

Calgary police say they received 80 hate crime complaints between January and November 2020. (Pixabay)
‘Racism is a real problem:’ Muslim women fearful following attacks in Edmonton

So far in 2021, three of seven hate-crime-related investigations have involved Somali-Muslim women

Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro speaks during a news conference in Calgary on May 29, 2020. Shandro says Alberta is considering whether to extend the time between COVID-19 vaccine shots to four months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta may follow B.C.’s lead on faster rollout of first COVID-19 dose

Tyler Shandro says a committee of COVID-19 experts is analyzing emerging data and a decision is coming

Most Read