CHARLOTTE, N.C. – News and notes from the final round of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow where Justin Thomas fired a 68 to win his first major championship by two strokes.
For more information on the final round, click here to read The Daily Wrap.
THOMAS WINS AMONGST FRIENDS
We’ve seen those SB2K17 spring break pictures from the Bahamas plastered all over social media.
Think Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler swimming, soaking up the sun, sinking putts and shooting hoops. A pint-sized pig even nosed his way into some of the photos.
On Sunday at Quail Hollow, Spieth and Fowler stood as inconspicuously as they could on the 18th fairway watching as their best bud won his first major championship.
“It's awesome and I think they know I would do the same for them,” Thomas said. “It's a cool little friendship we have.”
Also on hand was Bud Cauley, Thomas’ roommate in Jupiter, Florida, and also a former Alabama golfer, who teed off at 9:35 a.m. in the 10th group of the day.
“I just didn't believe Bud Cauley stayed around,” Thomas said. “He's one of my best friends. I was about ten minutes from going to tee off and he was walking off to go sign his scorecard.
“So he hung around for an entire 18 holes just to stick around, and not knowing what could happen.”
Spieth, who won the Open Championship last month, had started the final round 11 shots off the pace, his chance to complete the career Grand Slam essentially gone. When he finished off his round of 70, though, Spieth could tell things were going Thomas’ way.
Fowler, who is seeking his first major championship, was in the thick of things, playing just six groups ahead of Thomas. He shot 67 and waited with Spieth, both players maintaining a low profile and letting the spotlight shine on their friend.
“But I think that kind of shows, you know, where the game is right now, where all of us are,” Thomas said. “I mean, we obviously all want to win. We want to beat the other person.
“But if we can't win, we at least want to enjoy it with our friends. I think that we'll all be able to enjoy this together, and I know it's going to make them more hungry, just like it did me, for Jordan at the British, or whatever you want to say.”
Justin Thomas news conference after winning PGA Championship
REED SETTLES IN
The way Patrick Reed saw it, Sunday was a microcosm of his season.
Yes, he had a chance to win the PGA Championship. But everything had to fall into place, and while Reed closed to within a shot as the Green Mile loomed, Justin Thomas was just too strong.
“This year's kind of been, kind of the moral of the story of today,” Reed said with a sigh. “Very frustrating; a lot of good things going on, but falling just a little short.”
He knew he had no margin for error on Sunday.
Reed started the final round of the PGA Championship five strokes off the lead. He couldn’t afford to make bogeys. He couldn’t squander birdie opportunities, either – not on a course like Quail Hollow.
Reed succeeded in making birdies, carving out seven through 15 holes. But he gave three shots back with bogeys, including at the 18th, and ended up falling two shy of victory.
“To be as far back as I was coming in today, to win a golf tournament, you have to make every one of them,” Reed said. “You can't sit there and you can't miss putts. Even if they are 30-footers, if you're that far back to win, you have to make all of them.
“Unfortunately I wasn't able to do that, and that's why I'm sitting here disappointed.”
Still, Sunday’s tie for second came with some positives.
It was, after all, Reed’s first top 10 in 16 major championship starts and his best finish of the season, as well. The five-time PGA TOUR champ also moved inside the top 10 for an automatic Presidents Cup berth.
Most of all, though, Reed came away pleased by how comfortable he felt being in contention at one of the game’s biggest events.
“My first two years at the majors, I was putting too much pressure on myself,” Reed said. “I was making them way bigger than they needed to be. They are still golf tournaments. There's still 72 holes. You've got to go out and play some good golf.
“At the end of the day, what I loved to see was when I got in contention today, when I went on that run to get myself actually in the golf tournament … I didn't feel any different. I didn't feel any pressure.”
KISNER HUNGRY FOR MORE
Kevin Kisner was nothing if not resilient at the PGA Championship.
He held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds, and even when Kisner finally lost it on Sunday, he kept fighting back. In the end, though, the treacherous Green Mile – and the surging Thomas – simply proved too much for him.
But Kisner is ready for more.
“It's fun trying to compete,” he said. “Fun trying to see what you can do. There's only a certain number of people in the world that get that opportunity, and that's why we're out here.”
Kisner says he gets his tenacity from his parents. And nowhere was that determination on display more than during the 2015-16 season when he lost in three playoffs before picking up his first win last fall.
“They taught me about being a good person and believing in yourself,” Kisner said. “And to be the best you've got to work hard and that's what I've done in my career.”
This week at Quail Hollow, Kisner, who ranks 127th in driving distance, was able to offset that deficit with a red-hot putter. At least through the first three rounds.
On Sunday, though, the putts that fell early in the week spun out of the cup. Kisner estimated he missed at least three of 8 feet or less but even so, he was feeling good about his chances.
“I really liked the way I started out, hitting the ball solid and gave myself a lot of looks,” Kisner said. “Just not making the putts that I need to make to win major championships
A waterlogged approach at the par-5 seventh was a jolt to the system. It led to his first bogey and is something Kisner says will “haunt” him.
“I actually went back for one more club and got too greedy with it,” he said. “That should be -- that's one of the holes I have to make 4 on to compete, and walk away with 6 was painful.”
A birdie at the 10th hole was followed by back-to-back bogeys. But Kisner rolled in birdie putts at Nos. 14 and 15 to get within a touch of Thomas before he faltered over the Green Mile, playing it in 3 over for the second straight day.
“That's not going to be fun to look at,” Kisner said. “I thought I had to get to 10 starting the day to win and that was about right. I had every opportunity. I just didn't finish it off.”
ODDS AND ENDS
Chris Stroud picked up his first PGA TOUR win seven days ago at the Barracuda Championship. On Sunday, he played in the final group at the PGA Championship and ended up with his first top 10 in a major, a tie for ninth.
Not a bad week’s work. Stroud, undaunted by the closing 76, called it a “dream come true,” adding later the experience was “absolutely unbelievable.”
“You know, all these guys, J.T., I mean, he's a deserving champion.” Stroud said. “He came out hard. Once he won, everybody knew he was going to win a lot, and he won two in a row, I think, this year, both in Hawai'i he won, Mr. 59.
“These guys are really good. The commercial's right.” …
As if the Green Mile isn’t taxing enough, Jon Rahm had an added challenge on the 18th hole.
His approach landed on the bank of the creek. He had no stance and ended up standing to the side of the ball, facing away from the green.
Rahm then held the club backwards in his right hand and made contact, advancing the ball onto the green. He then two-putted for bogey – which certainly would have made the great Seve Ballesteros proud.
“If I tried to stand in front of the ball, I’d really have to chop it down,” Rahm said. “The only way to hit it on line would be to hit in front of my legs, so that was no option. I’m not gonna hit it left-handed because that’s too much of a gamble for me. And I couldn’t stand in the water because it was so high.
“To me, it seemed like the only logical option. It’s straight back, it’s straight backthrough. It’s a very consistent movement.”
Louis Oosthuizen, who shot 70 on Sunday and tied for second with Francesco Molinari and Reed, has now finished runner-up in all the majors – and THE PLAYERS Championship.
He lost in a playoff to Bubba Watson at the 2012 Masters, tied for second at the 2015 U.S. Open and Open Championship and was runner-up at the PLAYERS earlier this year. Oosthuizen has one major to his credit – he won the 2010 Open Championship at St. Andrews.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Justin Thomas' hyped chip-in birdie is the Shot of the Day
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They have all the swings. pic.twitter.com/AAulxzZ946— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 14, 2017
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Dream come true. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/n6en0cwwEK
Justin and Jordan.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 13, 2017
From minors to majors. 🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/vmcZX4b6BX