Thomas cruises to WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title
Akron, Ohio, August 5: World Number Two Justin Thomas cruised to his maiden World Golf Championship title with a commanding four-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
As Firestone Country Club – playing host to this tournament for the final time before it moves to Memphis next year – made life difficult for the world’s best players on day four, overnight leader Thomas kept out of trouble, carding two birdies and a single bogey to get to 15 under par and secure a comfortable victory.
Thomas, who will defend his US PGA Championship title at Bellerive Country Club next week, was the only man in the final two groups to break par on Sunday with a closing 69 – his fourth straight round in the sixties this week. He now joins Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the only players to win a Major Championship, a World Golf Championship and nine Tour victories before their 26th birthday.
American Kyle Stanley finished alone in second place on 11 under after mixing five birdies with three bogeys, one stroke clear of Dane Thorbjørn Olesen, who produced his joint-lowest WGC round on a tough scoring day, and World Number One Dustin Johnson after they closed with matching 64s.
US Open Champion Brooks Koepka was another shot back in fifth, one ahead of four-time Major winner McIlroy, India’s Anirban Lahiri, and American pair Aaron Wise and Patrick Cantlay.
“I’ve been knocking on the door this year between Mexico and the Match Play. I felt like I was very close and it was kind of one of the few things left that I felt I needed to knock off or felt that would have been nice to add to the resume, for sure,” said Thomas.
“To win on a golf course like this, a championship golf course and always against a very tough field, it just felt great. I really, really played well all week.
“It was pretty special. I can’t really put it into words, honestly. When I had my putt, I kind of marked it and I turned around and I just happened to see my parents, saw my grandma and grandpa and I just got a huge knot in my throat and I just had to put my head down. I never have gotten like that on the golf course before. You just don’t know if they’re ever going to see me win if I don’t win here, so it was pretty cool to get it done.
“I’m just in a great place mentally right now, I just was so patient and calm all week. I mean, I think I made six bogeys all week, something like that, which is pretty good around this place as many birdies as I feel like I make. Kind of had a little bit of a loose day yesterday, I felt like, with the amount of bogeys I made, but I played really well. I drove the ball well.
Kyle Stanley, who finished four shots behind Thomas, said: “I didn’t get off to the best start making a bogey on two, but other than that, I just thought this week I just did a really nice job of hanging in there. Friday through to today, I was pretty uncomfortable on the greens, I couldn’t get the speed down, missed a few shorties, but from tee to green I’m not sure I really could have done much better. All in all, I think there’s a lot to build on.”
World number one Dustin Johnson said: “It was okay. Definitely better the last two rounds. I felt like even the first two rounds I played okay, but I struggled on the greens a little bit. Switched putters, put a Spider Mini and started rolling it a little bit better. I felt like I was working really hard on the putting and it just wasn’t getting any better, so I switched putters and it worked a little bit. Who knows.
“Anytime you can birdie seven out of the first ten, you know you’re doing something pretty well. I just gave myself a lot of chances, and close chances, too. It wasn’t like I was making bombs, I was making eight, ten-footers. So I hit it really well, even gave myself a lot of chances on the back nine.”
Tiger Woods, who won this tournament for a record eight times, said: “I’m going to miss playing here, I’m going to miss the people. I’ve had so many great memories and it’s sad that we’re not coming back here anymore. I’ve always enjoyed playing here, I loved playing here, even when it was the World Series of Golf. Now it’s become a bigger event, but unfortunately we have to move on. The guys that I grew up playing against are going to be playing here next year. We’ll see how they play it.”
265 J Thomas (USA) 65 64 67 69,
269 K Stanley (USA) 63 68 70 68,
270 D Johnson (USA) 69 71 66 64, T Olesen (Den) 71 67 68 64,
271 B Koepka (USA) 66 70 68 67,
272 A Wise (USA) 67 71 67 67, R McIlroy (Nir) 65 67 67 73, A Lahiri (Ind) 65 70 69 68, P Cantlay (USA) 64 72 68 68,
273 J Day (Aus) 65 66 69 73, I Poulter (Eng) 62 67 70 74, S Kim (Kor) 64 68 72 69, T Finau (USA) 68 66 71 68,
274 M Leishman (Aus) 65 69 67 73, M Kuchar (USA) 68 70 67 69, T Fleetwood (Eng) 66 63 74 71,
275 Z Johnson (USA) 69 70 67 69, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 68 67 69 71, J Rahm (Esp) 64 70 68 73, G Woodland (USA) 67 71 69 68, R Fowler (USA) 63 74 65 73, R Fisher (Eng) 67 68 71 69,
276 C Smith (Aus) 70 70 69 67,
277 L List (USA) 65 68 71 73, W Simpson (USA) 69 65 71 72, P Mickelson (USA) 66 69 72 70, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 68 66 69 74,
278 T Hatton (Eng) 68 67 72 71, P Reed (USA) 66 70 70 72,
279 B Dechambeau (USA) 75 69 68 67,
280 P Casey (Eng) 68 71 71 70, T Woods (USA) 66 68 73 73, C Schwartzel (RSA) 71 72 74 63, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 70 70 69 71, B Watson (USA) 71 69 67 73, P Kizzire (USA) 68 67 74 71, K Na (USA) 65 72 70 73, A Noren (Swe) 70 73 66 71,
281 H Stenson (Swe) 70 69 69 73, H Li (Chn) 66 67 72 76, W Ormsby (Aus) 69 71 68 73, K Kisner (USA) 74 68 68 71, S Garcia (Esp) 70 69 67 75, K Chappell (USA) 71 72 68 70, F Molinari (Ita) 70 72 70 69, H Matsuyama (Jpn) 67 72 70 72, R Tokimatsu (Jpn) 68 71 71 71,