Thomas flashes his classic competitiveness at Medinah
Heads to TOUR Championship as the player to catch after BMW Championship win
August 19, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Justin Thomas wins at BMW Championship
The penultimate week in the season didn’t disappoint as the BMW Championship provided multiple storylines and drama. Jostling for positions in Atlanta and in the Presidents Cup changed by the minute. It was the perfect setup into the season-ending TOUR Championship and culmination for the FedExCup.
Welcome to the Monday Finish where Justin Thomas reminded us all that he’s a powerhouse not to be dismissed and golf reminded us that it pays no favors to anyone, Tiger Woods included.
1. Justin Thomas is an awesome competitor.
Entering last week, Thomas was having one of those seasons that slipped into the background. He was playing more-than-solid golf early on and had three top-three finishes in his first six starts of the season. Winning again was just a matter of when, not if. Then a pesky wrist injury popped up and took him out of the game. The rust was evident in his first few post-injury starts but the signs started to show. Thomas was T11 at The Open Championship, T12 at the World Golf Championships–FedEx St. Jude Invitational and T12 at THE NORTHERN TRUST. Then came the BMW Championship. Bang! He blitzed out ahead of the field, setting up a six-shot lead through 54 holes after a course-record 61 on Saturday at Medinah. His Sunday was enthralling viewing. As his lead slipped to as small as two, you thought he might let it go. But when things got really tough, Thomas responded and kicked away again. Always the competitor, he really earned his 10th PGA TOUR win. Read all about his incredible efforts here.
2. Tiger Woods wins even when he loses.
Woods provided us a sporting moment one year ago that will never be forgotten. The fans flocked on the 18th hole at East Lake during the TOUR Championship to see him get win No. 80. But we won’t see him there again this season after he was unable to make the necessary charge in Chicago to secure a spot in the top 30. After having to withdraw from THE NORTHERN TRUST with an oblique strain, it was touch and go as to whether he’d even play at Medinah where he had won two PGA Championships. But Woods did indeed suit up; he just couldn’t muster the fireworks other players were. His T37 meant his season ended a week shy of the FedExCup finale. Still, this will forever be the year Woods gave us all another special memory, his 15th major championship. His win at the Masters was historic for so many reasons and while he never really was able to show his best past April, it was still a great ride. Read more about Woods season here.
3. The FedExCup permutations on BMW Sunday never fail to disappoint.
Jason Kokrak had never made the TOUR Championship before. This time he could really smell it. Starting the week just outside the top 30, he knew he just had to take care of business at Medinah. A great fight through 71 holes had him primed, but he figured he needed one more birdie. One more to secure a schedule full of WGCs and majors next season. Putting nerves aside, he spanked a huge drive down the middle, wedged in tight and made a clutch putt. Meanwhile, Rory Sabbatini was leaking shots, and with it, his chance to return to East Lake for the first time since 2007. J.T. Poston was in and out of the top 30. Lucas Glover had some late scares. It was great theater. In the end, Hideki Matsuyama, Glover and Kokrak played their way in, while Andrew Putnam, Shane Lowry and Harold Varner III fell out. Read all of the FedExCup drama here.
4. The Presidents Cup is set to bring us new blood.
Just like the FedExCup drama, there was plenty going on in the final week of qualifying for the automatic eight slots on both the U.S. and International Presidents Cup teams. The battle to be held at Royal Melbourne Dec. 12-15 shapes up as an intriguing one, indeed. Ernie Els will go to battle with at least four Presidents Cup rookies after Cameron Smith, Haotong Li, C.T. Pan and Abraham Ancer made his squad. They will be joined by veterans Adam Scott, Louis Oosthuizen, Marc Leishman and Hideki Matsuyama. Jason Day looked like he might steal a slot with a hot start on Sunday, only for back-to-back double bogeys to derail his push. He will need a captain's pick from Els to play in Melbourne. Tiger Woods will have Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau and Matt Kuchar on his side. Tony Finau needed to be third at the BMW Championship to steal a spot. He was fourth. He leads a list of players looking for a pick that includes himself, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Gary Woodland. Read more about it all here.
5. Mickelson entertains off course as much as on these days.
The season finished for Phil Mickelson on Sunday, but not before he provided plenty of entertainment. Always known for his flair on the course, Mickelson continued in that vein by hitting driver off the deck a few times and attempting interesting shots while on the back end of the leaderboard. But it was off the course where he made the most noise. After giving dating advice over Twitter during a rain delay earlier in the week, Mickelson had everyone on the edge of their seats Sunday morning with the news his hotel had been struck by lightning and was on fire. With his clubs inside, his tee time arrival was threatened. Always the showman, he made it on time, changing his shoes in the parking lot like so many of us do on the rare chances we get out for a hit. Late to the social media scene, Mickelson has certainly made up for lost time. A must-follow. Read more about his day here.
1. Thomas earned his 10th career PGA TOUR victory in his 136th career start at age 26 years, 3 months, 20 days. It is the second-most wins over the last four seasons behind only Dustin Johnson’s 11. Brooks Koepka is next with six.
2. Thomas is the ninth player in PGA TOUR history to record 10 wins, including a major, before age 27, joining Ralph Guldahl, Rory McIlroy, Jack Nicklaus, Paul Runyan, Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods.
3. Thomas’ 72-hole cumulative score to par of 25 under, surpassed Dustin Johnson (2016, -23) and Mark Leishman (2017, -23) for the lowest score to par by a winner at this event. A total of 46% of his strokes gained for the week came from his approach and iron performance. Thomas ranked second in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green, outperforming the field by +1.927 strokes per round.
4. Dustin Johnson (14th in FedExCup) qualifies for his 11th TOUR Championship, the most seasons qualifying for the TOUR Championship by a player in FedExCup era.
5. At No. 24, Sungjae Im is the only rookie to qualify for the TOUR Championship in 2018-19. He becomes the 13th PGA TOUR rookie to qualify for the TOUR Championship in the FedExCup era. Since the inception of the FedExCup, the rookie who finishes the highest in the FedExCup has been voted Rookie of the Year.