Lucky 13th for Thomas
August 05, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Justin Thomas' Round 4 highlights from Bridgestone
AKRON, Ohio – FedExCup champion Justin Thomas hadn’t really faced much stress during the final round of the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational until Jason Day and Kyle Stanley decided to pull their fingers out at the turn.
Thomas certainly had a healthy three-shot lead when he entered Sunday at Firestone but the names lined up behind him were expected to put up a fight.
Dustin Johnson was making a wild run up the leaderboard but it was clear he started too far back (10 shots) and was running out of holes so Thomas didn’t sweat his move.
Playing partner Rory McIlroy leaked shots around the turn and had not put on the necessary heat early.
Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm were going backwards. So too Marc Leishman and Ian Poulter.
Even Stanley and Day had been virtually treading water on the front nine.
But finally someone decided to press.
Stanley birdied the 10th and 12th holes to pull within two shots.
Day fired up also. Birdies on 10, 11 and then again at 12 had the locals questioning their allegiances.
Did they stick with the American Thomas or go for the adopted Australian who has made his home nearby in Columbus and who had just pulled within two.
Their dilemma did not last long as the 13th proved unlucky for the chasers but perfect for the leader.
The par-4 475-yard hole calls for a cut off the tee before hitting into a slightly elevated green.
Stanley bogeyed it first after his tee shot failed to get around the corner and stopped in the first cut. He advanced the ball to the edge of the green but couldn’t get up and down.
Day and his driver were not getting along. He hit just four of 14 fairways Saturday and five of 14 Sunday.
Sadly for him the 13th was one of the misses as he sent the ball way left, punched out towards the green but ultimately lipped out a five-foot par putt.
“When Jason got within two I thought we can’t make a mistake now,” caddie Jimmy Johnson said of Thomas’ chances.
Thomas sensed he needed to step up and extinguish their dreams.
His drive cut perfectly around the dogleg, rolling out some 374 yards into the fairway.
His approach from 98 yards stopped 10-feet from the hole.
He buried the putt.
All up the seven nearest challengers after 54 holes to Thomas combined to shoot 17 over par.
Only Stanley shot under par, with his 68 netting him second place.
“When Jason bogeyed 13 and we birdied it I thought if we just hit very green we will be fine,” Johnson added.
Thomas admitted it was the turning point.
“That birdie there was huge to kind of separate it, and then Jason made a couple bogeys and we were able to coast coming in.”
And coast he did. Five straight pars were enough to win by four.
“I take a lot of pride in how I played today,” Thomas added.
“I was very nervous going into today. I think that you kind of get that two, three, four shot lead, it's just different than one.
“With a three‑shot lead you kind of have a little bit of wiggle room and you feel like you maybe play a little too conservative, but I was able to kind of dwell on past learning experiences and you always try to get it higher.
“I was trying to get it to 18 under because I knew if I got to that, I didn't really think anybody could catch me.
“I played well enough to do that, I just didn't really make any putts today, but I just kept hitting green after green. And if I hit missed the fairway, I was putting it on the correct side of the rough so I was able to have an angle into the green. We just kind of plotted our day around.”
The 25-year-old has nine PGA TOUR wins and is the fifth and now youngest player to win the FedExCup, a major and a WGC event in their career.
JOHNSON REMAINS FEDEXCUP LEADER ... Entering the final round there was a chance Dustin Johnson might lose the FedExCup lead if Justin Thomas won and he slid backwards down the boards. Johnson made sure that would not be the case with a 6-under 64 lifting his standing from T22 to T3. Thomas’ win closed the gap at the top with his 550 points putting him just 147 points behind in second place. At one point a course record looked possible for Johnson as he was seven under through 10 holes. “Anytime you can birdie seven out of the first 10, you know you're doing something pretty well,” he said. “I just gave myself a lot of chances, and close chances, too. It wasn't like I was making bombs, I was making eight, 10‑footers. So I hit it really well, even gave myself a lot of chances on the back nine.” Johnson will look to continue the form, which continued from his win at the RBC Canadian Open the week before, into next week’s PGA Championship.
WEEKEND WIMPER FOR WOODS ... Through two rounds the fans in Ohio were hoping Tiger Woods was positioning himself for a weekend charge and an emotional ninth win at Firestone Country Club. He was within range just five shots off the pace and in a tie for 10th. But rounds of 73-73 made his last trip around Firestone until he qualifies for PGA TOUR Champions in eight years more ceremonial than competitive. His Sunday was a rollercoaster with six birdies, five bogeys and two double bogeys. The biggest roar was reserved for the 18th hole where he knocked in a 12-foot birdie to finish his tournament in 31st place. “I'm going to miss this place. I'm going to miss playing here, I'm going to miss the people. I've had so many great memories,” Woods said. “I was just trying to be as aggressive as possible and fire at everything. It was either going to be 62 or 63 or something in the mid 70s. I was just going to be aggressive and see what happens. I was so far back that I had to play a great round just to get in the top‑10. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.”
Tiger Woods starts final round with back-to-back birdies at Bridgestone
THORBJORN OLESEN – Joined Dustin Johnson with a Sunday 64 to move to a tie for third place.
BROOKS KOEPKA – The two-time U.S. Open champion shot 67 to take fifth place alone.
PHIL MICKELSON – Even par final round left Lefty tied 24th.
JORDAN SPIETH – Had a decent final round going for momentum into the PGA Championship at two under through 14 holes before finishing, bogey – double bogey – bogey – double bogey for a 74 and 60th place.
AARON WISE – Continued his bid for rookie of the year honors over Austin Cook and others. Wise shot 67 Sunday to finish T6 while Cook was T53.
Kyle Stanley’s 40-foot birdie putt at Bridgestone
QUOTABLESI’m just in a great place mentally right now. I was just so patient and calm all week.It was as good as I've hit it in my pro career (this week).
It's obviously nice to be in good form going into a major.
As far as Phil's video, it was a video and it's funny.
Low round - 63, Charl Schwartzel
Long drive - 420 yards, Rory McIlroy, 16th hole
Long putt - 44 feet, 76 inches by Thorbjorn Olesen
Toughest hole - Par-4 4th played to a 4.296 average
Easiest hole - Par-5 2nd played to a 4.352 average
CALL OF THE DAY
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Thorbjørn Olesen's 36-foot birdie putt for Shot of the Day