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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

'Unbelievable calmness' drives Justin Thomas to US PGA Championship title

American golfer driven by success of world No 2 as he clinches Wanamaker Trophy at Quail Hollow.

Justin Thomas celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club late on Sunday. Rob Schumacher / Reuters
Justin Thomas celebrates with the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club late on Sunday. Rob Schumacher / Reuters

Watching his friend Jordan Spieth win major titles was beyond frustrating for Justin Thomas, who captured one of his own Sunday by winning the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

"Frustration probably isn't the right word. Jealousy definitely is," Thomas said. "There's no reason to hide it. I wanted to be doing that and I wasn't. There's only four of them in a year, and to be one of them, a major champion, is really cool."

World No 2 Spieth won last month's British Open to go with his 2015 Masters and US Open titles, and would have completed a career grand slam by taking the Wanamaker Trophy that Thomas hoisted.

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"Hopefully I'm going to win some more, plenty more, a lot more," Thomas said. "I know you can't get to two unless you get one. So I'm excited to have this and it's incredible. It was an awesome day. It was a great experience. It's huge for me."

And from telling his girlfriend in advance to change her flight plans to sinking three emotional back-nine birdies, Thomas kept his cool while thinking all along it was his week to win.

"I truly felt like I was going to win," Thomas said. "My girlfriend was supposed to fly out at about 7 and I was like, 'You need to change your flight to later, because I just feel like I don't want you to miss this. I feel like I'm going to get it done.' I was just very confident."

And he never felt overcome by the tension and pressure on a day when he was among five deadlocked for the lead at one stage.

"I just had an unbelievable calmness," Thomas said. "I thought I would be very shaky. At one point, I looked at my hand and it was a little bit shaky. But that's why you play. You play for those nerves."

Thomas on hunger to win

Thomas found his resolve after sinking a 14-foot putt to salvage bogey at the first hole.

"I pretty much couldn't have drawn up a worse start," Thomas said of his first four shots. "After rolling that in, it just kind of calmed me down and kept me going."

At the par-5 10th, his tee shot bounced off a tree into the fairway. Then an eight-foot birdie putt hung on the edge of the cup nearly 10 seconds before falling in.

"I was like, 'This ball has to go in. There's no way that it can stay there,'" Thomas said. "I threw a little fit to try to see what would happen. The gravity took over and the roar was pretty loud, so that was pretty cool."

Thomas seized command with a 40-foot chip-in at the par-3 13th and celebrated in style as the crowd went wild.

"That chip-in on 13 was probably the most berserk I've ever gone on the golf course. Yeah, it was nice," Thomas said. "You can look really stupid in a heartbeat. To have that chip come out perfectly was [wonderful] and that was a roar like I've never experienced."

He sparked another roar with a tee shot to 15 feet over water at the par-3 17th, then holed the putt, the ball dropping in from the left side to all-but seal his triumph.

Highlights of Thomas win

"That was one of the best golf shots I've probably ever hit in my life," he said. "When you get in those moments, that adrenaline, it's so hard to take something off of a club. That shot, I'll never forget that vision in my head when it landed.

"And when that putt went in, it was definitely a relief."

Thomas is the third consecutive American in his 20s to win a major after Spieth and US Open champion Brooks Koepka, and the third first-time major winner in a row at the PGA after Australian Jason Day in 2015 and American Jimmy Walker last year.

Thomas at trophy presentation

US PGA Championship in numbers

Joost Luiten produced a memorable hole in one at the par-three fourth in the first round.

To date, the only two players to win the PGA Championship after winning the week before are Rory McIlroy (2014 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) and Tiger Woods (2007, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational). Hideki Matsuyama or Chris Stroud could have made it three.

Number of seasons without a major for McIlroy, who finished in a tie for 22nd.

4 Louis Oosthuizen has now finished second in all four of the game's major championships.

In the fifth hole of the final round, McIlroy holed his longest putt of the week - from 16ft 8in - for birdie.

For the sixth successive year, play was disrupted by bad weather with a delay of one hour and 43 minutes on Friday.

Seven under par (64) was the best round of the week, shot by Matsuyama and Francesco Molinari on Day 2.

Number of shots taken by Jason Day on the 18th hole in round three after a risky recovery shot backfired.

Jon Rahm's age in months the last time Phil Mickelson missed the cut in the US PGA, in 1995.

10 Jimmy Walker's opening round as defending champion was a 10-over-par 81.

11 The par-four 11th coincidentally ranked as the 11th hardest hole overall with a scoring average of 4.192.

12 Paul Casey was a combined 12 under par for his first round in this year's majors.

13 The average world ranking of the last 13 PGA winners before this week was 25. Kevin Kisner began the week ranked 25th.

14 The world ranking of Justin Thomas before his victory.

15 Of the top 15 players after 54 holes, only Oosthuizen had previously won a major.

16 The par-four 16th marks the start of Quail Hollow's so-called "Green Mile" of finishing holes, some of the toughest in golf.

17 The first round scoring average of the last 17 major champions was 67.2. Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen shot 67 on day one at Quail Hollow.

18 For the first time in 18 majors, the eventual winner was over par after round one (Thomas shot 73).

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