Turns out, Justin Thomas is just as good at predicting things as he is at golf. Earlier in the week Thomas was asked what lead would be safe at Southern Hills. His response was “ no lead”, and he made sure his statement was absolutely correct. Thomas entered Sunday’s final round of the 79th PGA Championship 7 strokes off the lead and somehow ended up with his hands on the Wanamaker Trophy. How improbable was the comeback? The 7 stroke deficit tied the PGA record for the largest comeback in championship history, it also ties as the 3rd biggest Sunday comeback in any major, and the fact that he did it at Southern Hills is a whole other saga: this was the 8th major contested at Southern Hills and it’s the only one that wasn’t won by the player who had the lead after 36 holes.
Now to be fair, Thomas had a little help. Justin missed a very makable birdie putt on the 18th that he thought he might need to get into a playoff. But then he got an assist for the ages. Mito Pereira, the 27 year old Chilean sensation, playing in only his 2nd major, had a one stroke lead on the 18th tee and then uncorked a drive that will be talked about for while. The swing on 18 by Mito looked like something out of Charles Barkley’s past. His hard slice off the tee found water and Pereira went on to make double, missing the playoff with Thomas and Will Zalatoris by a single stroke. It was also the first time since the 2006 US Open at Winged Foot that a player lost a one shot lead on the final hole to lose a major. Sidenote: of COURSE Phil found a way to be a part of the story on Sunday this week without actually being there to defend his title. With Mito having turned into Chilean Sea Bass Thomas took control of the 3 hole playoff by birdieing the 1st two holes.
But what to think of Thomas now? It was his first win on tour since the 2021 Players Championship, a span of 14 months. He now has 2 majors and The Players to his name and a growing reputation as one of the best players out there. Consider the numbers: he’s now #5 in the world, has at least one win in the last 8 seasons and since his first win on tour in the 2015-16 season he’s tied with Dustin Johnson for the most wins with 15. Thomas is now the 6th player since World War II with 15 wins and two majors before the age of 30. The other 5? Yeah you’ve heard of them. They go by the names of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson. That’s about as good of a list of players you’d want to be associated with. For years on tour Justin Thomas was the kid who grew up with Jordan Spieth that didn’t quite have Spieth’s resume. Oh how the tides have turned. Thomas is proving to be a consistent winner and a constant threat in majors. The next one is 25 days away when the U.S. Open is played at The Country Club in Brookline, MA. Might be a decent time to put a little wager on JT. After all, his 28/1 odds at Caesars Sportsbook this Sunday sure paid off.