January 06, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- A look inside Justin Thomas' 12th PGA TOUR victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Justin Thomas rebounded from a sloppy 72nd-hole bogey to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions in a three-man playoff. It was his second win of the season and third in his last six PGA TOUR starts. Thomas, the 2017 FedExCup champion, now leads this season’s standings by 175 points.
Thomas’ 12th win also put him in some impressive company. Here’s a closer look at what it means.
1. LEGENDARY COMPANY: Thomas is just the third player in the past 60 years to win 12 times before turning 27. The other two? Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Woods won 34 times before turning 27, while Nicklaus won 20 times.
2. TOP OF THE CLASS: Thomas’ 12 wins also are the most among players currently under the age of 30. Before this week, he was tied atop that list with Jordan Spieth. The two players have been linked since their days in junior golf. They’re the two biggest names from the Class of 2011. Spieth once led Thomas, 8-1, in the wins department. It just shows how unpredictable this game can be.
While Spieth won his first title as a teenager in 2013, Thomas didn’t join the TOUR until the 2014-15 season. He turned pro after the 2013 Walker Cup and spent a season on the Korn Ferry Tour. Thomas’ 12 wins since 2014-15 are tied with Dustin Johnson for the most on TOUR in that span. Eleven of Thomas’ wins have come since the start of the 2016-17 season. That’s the most on TOUR by a good margin.
MOST WINS SINCE START OF 2016-17
3. IRONS ON FIRE: Before his closing bogey, Thomas’ iron play was the talk of the Sentry’s final round. A windy Plantation Course, with its sweeping slopes, was the perfect canvas for Thomas to display his artistry with his irons. He was altering his swing speed and trajectories to meet Kapalua’s unique demands.
As a testament to his iron play, Thomas’ four birdies on the 12 par-3s last week were two more than anyone else in the field. Twelve of the 34 players in the field didn’t make a birdie on a par-3 all week.
He birdied two par-3s on Sunday alone, the eighth and 11th holes. They were the bookends on a run of four consecutive birdies that made it look like Thomas had the tournament under control.
He hit his tee shot on the 198-yard eighth hole to 12 feet. The field’s average proximity on that hole in the final round was 37 feet.
Thomas was the only player to hit his tee shot within 10 feet on the 162-yard 11th. The short par-3 was actually Sunday’s hardest hole. He hit it to 5 feet, 6 inches to make just the second birdie of the day on that hole. The hole played to a 3.47 scoring average Sunday.
Thomas led the field in fairway proximity from both 125-150 yards and 150-175 yards last week.
THOMAS' FAIRWAY PROXIMITY
|DISTANCE||THOMAS' AVERAGE||FIELD AVERAGE||DIFFERENCE|
|125-150||15', 6"||31', 7"||16', 1"|
|150-175||26', 9"||40', 9"||14', 0"|
4. GAINING GROUND: Thomas has been one of the best iron players on TOUR since the 2017 season, trailing only Henrik Stenson in Strokes Gained: Approach per round over that span (minimum 200 measured rounds).
BEST SG: APPROACH PER ROUND SINCE 2017
5. FRIGHTENING FINISH: Kapalua’s par-5 18th hole is a birdie opportunity, but Thomas bogeyed it twice last week. He drove into the penalty area in the second round, then hooked his 3-wood into the high grass on Sunday. He is the first person to win at Kapalua with two scores of bogey (or worse) on the 18th hole in the week of his win.
The Sentry Tournament of Champions has been held at Kapalua since 1999. Only one other player (Stuart Appleby, 2006) has won with a bogey (or worse) on 18 in the week of his win.
OVER-PAR SCORES ON 18 BY SENTRY WINNERS