NORTON, Mass. – News and notes from Monday’s Labor Day finish of the Dell Technologies Championship, with Justin Thomas winning by three strokes over his good friend Jordan Spieth. Click here for more from TPC Boston and click here for the latest FedExCup update.
WHO’S THE BEST NOW?
He’s not the FedExCup leader. He’s not the world’s top-ranked player. But nobody has won more times in the PGA TOUR season than Justin Thomas, who has five. And no one has won more recently, with two wins in his last three starts.
So regardless of rankings, is he the world’s best golfer – at least right now?
“I can’t give you an answer on that,” Thomas said. “That’s only asking for trouble.”
Still, Thomas could certainly make an argument if he was so inclined. Although world No. 1 Dustin Johnson won last week, and Jordan Spieth finished runner-up for the second consecutive week in the FedExCup Playoffs – allowing him to move to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings – Thomas has the hottest hand right now.
His win at the PGA Championship showed he’s readiness on the biggest of stages, and now he’s looking to ride that momentum to a FedExCup title, which Spieth won two years ago and Rory McIlroy won last year – two contemporaries that Thomas feels he can capably go against head-to-head.
“I feel confident when I get in these situations like today, or like I did at the PGA, I feel like I can get it done,” Thomas said. “I feel like I’ve proven that I can get it done. It’s just that no one is the best in the world. It’s really whoever is playing best at the time.”
His five wins this season certainly shows he knows how to close. Earlier this week, he admitted that he wasn’t playing his best, but he hung in contention and then made his move in the final two rounds, shooting 63 – the low round of the week – before seizing control on the back nine Sunday.
The key sequence came at the par-4 15th – his gap wedge on his approach finished 4 feet for a birdie – and the par-3 16th. His 9-iron got caught in the wind, and he found the primary rough right of the green. His flop shot left him 6-1/2 feet – he made the putt, essentially putting the tournament away at that point.
“That putt was one of the best ones I made this week,” Thomas said.
As for the world’s best player … well, the final two FedExCup Playoffs events may very well answer that question.
Justin Thomas interview after winning Dell Technologies
TALE OF TWO NINES
Everything went right for Marc Leishman on the front side. Six birdies, Made the turn in 30. Was at 18 under – the only player all week to reach that number.
“A bad tee shot at 10,” he said, “and then just went downhill from there.”
Indeed. Leishman’s drive resulted in a penalty stroke at the par-4 10th and a bogey – the first of three straight. He three-putted from 51 feet at the par-3 11th and couldn’t salvage an up-and-down at the 12th, missing his par putt from 12 feet.
He finally got back on track, but the damage had been done. His two bogeys to end his round – and a back nine of 40 -- dropped him from solo second to solo third behind Jordan Spieth.
It’s Leishman’s best result since winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard in March. While he didn’t get the win, the Australian is encouraged by his form – particularly with the Presidents Cup looming. He’ll be a key member of Nick Price’s International team.
“Game is in a good spot, playing well,” Leishman said. “Putter feels good, which is very important in match play. Looking forward to getting up to Chicago and hopefully climbing up the FedExCup standings and then anything can happen in the TOUR Championship.”
BLAME THE 5-IRON
Jordan Spieth called it a “dream start” – his birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie opening to his final round. But he had no illusions that he’d keep it up. “You’re not going to keep pace and shoot, you know, 54,” he said with a smile.
Trying to keep pace with Justin Thomas, Spieth was 16 under at the turn. Then he fell victim to three poor shots with his 5-iron – each 200 yards from the pin.
The first came at the par-3 11th. Spieth missed the green to the left and had to settle for par.
Then came his approach at the par-4 12th, His shot landed in the primary rough on the other side of the cart path. “I had to try and hit a high hook around the tree,” he said, “but it was just sitting in a little bit of a depression.” Bogey.
The last came at the par-4 14th. From 200 yards also landed in the primary rough, and he missed the par-saver from 16 feet. Bogey again.
“Just a bad swing,” Spieth said. “That one really hurt. … 14 was the difference-maker for me.”
Spieth has now finished second in the first two Playoffs events. The good news is that he’s now No. 1 in FedExCup points going into the BMW Championship. The bad news is, well, he hasn’t won either of those events.
“It’s just a matter of closing it out,” Spieth said.
Jordan Spieth opens birdie-eagle-birdie at Dell Technologies
ODDS AND ENDS
Phil Mickelson’s 3-under 68 left him at 11 under and a tie for sixth. It’s his best result in a stroke-play event this season – and the kind of showing that should impress U.S. Presidents Cup Captain Steve Stricker, who will make his picks on Wednesday. Mickelson was asked, was it enough? “I hope so,” he replied. “But more than that, I don’t feel like it was a one-way thing. I think this is a big step for me as far as getting back to where I want – shooting the scores, playing, having energy, being able to practice, all those things.” …
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson wasn’t in contention on Monday. A poor front nine eliminated his hopes. He went out in 3-over 39 en roue to a 2-over 73. Of the 79 players in the field Monday, only J.J. Spaun had a worse opening nine (4-over 40). …
Charl Schwartzel had two of the five longest drives this week. He had the longest, a 356-yarder at the sixth hole, in round one. In the second round at the fifth hole, he had a 347-yarder. … Meanwhile, Marc Leishman had two of the seven longest putts this week. He led the field with a putt from 69 feet, 10 inches, in the second round. He also made a 52-foot, 4-inch putt in the third round.
CALL OF THE DAY
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Justin Thomas' lengthy eagle putt is the Shot of the Day
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Great win @JustinThomas34 🏆x5!— Justin Rose (@JustinRose99) September 4, 2017
Thank you Boston for an incredible week! Some of the best sports fans in the world 🏆 🏆🏆🏆🏆 @ TPC… https://t.co/w9YoOeMOXB— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) September 5, 2017
3-shot win. pic.twitter.com/PbIggWHxUw— Skratch (@Skratch) September 4, 2017