Thomas beats Zalatoris in playoff, wins PGA for 2nd major
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Justin Thomas matched a PGA Championship record Sunday when he rallied from a seven-shot deficit at Southern Hills, and then saved his most exquisite shot-making for a three-hole playoff to defeat Will Zalatoris.
He closed with a 3-under 67, matching the low score of a final round made difficult more by nerves than the wind. He seized control in the playoff with a 3-wood to 35 feet on the 301-yard 17th hole for a two-putt birdie.
He tapped in for par and stood erect with a smile, a mixture of joy and disbelief.
Thomas needed plenty of help, and Mito Pereira provided it in a tragic finish. The 27-year-old from Chile, playing in only his second major, took a one-shot lead to the final hole and drove into a creek to make double bogey.
It was the first time since Phil Mickelson at Winged Foot in the 2006 U.S. Open that a player lost a one-shot lead in the final hole to lose a major.
Zalatoris looked like he had thrown away his chances for a first major — and first PGA Tour victory — when he three-putted from just outside 20 feet on the 16th hole. But he responded with a birdie from the bunker at the 17th and holed an 8-foot par putt on the 18th for a 71.
He joined Thomas at 5-under 275, and they played on when Pereira faltered.
Thomas, who had gone 14 months since his last victory at The Players Championship last year, now has a PGA Tour victory in each of his last eight years and moves to No. 5 in the world.
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