By Sean Fairholm of Global Golf Post
Justin Thomas never had his best stuff on Sunday, but he grinded through the final round of the Honda Classic with the savvy of a player who knows how to win.
Starting the day one stroke behind 54-hole leader Luke List, with whom he was paired in the final round, Thomas clipped a beautiful wedge to kick-in distance on the par-5 third to quickly take the solo lead. However, the last round would prove to be a multi-horse race with the likes of List, Alex Norén, Tommy Fleetwood and Webb Simpson jockeying back and forth on the bitterly difficult Champion Course at PGA National.
Thomas received a fortuitous break when his tee shot on the par-3 fifth ricocheted off the stone wall fronting the green and ended about 10 feet from the hole. He didn’t make the putt, but it was the type of break a player sometimes needs to win.
After blocking his tee shot way right on the par-4 ninth, leading to a bogey, Thomas put together a much cleaner back nine. His birdie on the par-4 13th came at a critical juncture and he handled the Bear Trap (Nos. 15-17) with little drama.
The drama came at the final hole, where List and Thomas arrived tied. List reached the par-5 in two strokes and ultimately two-putted for birdie. Thomas, however, laid up after driving into the right rough and then hit a clutch wedge to 3 feet. His ensuing birdie forced the playoff.
In overtime, Thomas reached in two while List needed an outstanding third shot from the left rough just to have a realistic chance at birdie. He missed his putt, allowing Thomas to two-putt for the victory as the sun set.
“I was very calm and comfortable through 14 holes and that was the first time I had to play the Bear Trap with that much pressure, so it was pretty nerve-wracking,” Thomas said. “It just felt great to get it done.”
With the victory, the 24-year-old Kentuckian moved to No. 3 in the world marking the first time he’s moved past his close friend Jordan Spieth in the ranking. Thomas has won seven times in his past 31 Tour starts.
Driver: Titleist 917D2 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana BF 60TX
3 Wood: Titleist 917F2 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Blue 80TX
5 Wood: Titleist 915Fd (18 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Motore Speeder VC 9.2 Tour Spec X
Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T X5
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour
Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Republished with permission from Global Golf Post.