Here is a recap of Sunday’s final round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone’s South Course in Akron, Ohio:
WINNER: Justin Thomas’ winning ways have returned.
The 25-year-old never wavered Sunday, beginning the day with a three-shot lead and only making a single bogey. His lead was never lower than two and reached as much as five as he cruised to a 1-under 69, a 15-under total and a four-shot victory at Firestone.
The win is the third of the season for Thomas, who now has nine PGA Tour victories overall. A week after Dustin Johnson became the second player this season to win three PGA Tour events (with Bubba Watson being the other), Thomas joins that group.
This was simply 72 holes of pristine golf for Thomas. He opened the week in 65 and grabbed a share of the lead with a second-round 64. On a more difficult Saturday, he took command with six birdies and a 3-under 67 to move into his three-shot cushion.
Thomas began Sunday with a birdie at the second and followed with a bogey at No. 6. Otherwise, it was all pars through his first 12 holes. That was enough to keep him in charge, as he held a two-shot lead over Kyle Stanley after he birdied Nos. 10 and 12. Jason Day birdied Nos. 10-12 to move to 12 under and also within two.
Stanley would bogey 13 and 14, though, and Day would bogey 13 as well to give Thomas a three-shot lead again.
Thomas then essentially buried the field when he walked in a 10-footer for birdie at the 13th to move to 15 under and into a four-shot lead. Five pars after that sealed his win.
It was a breakout 2016-17 PGA Tour season for Thomas, as he won five times (including his first major title at the PGA Championship) and earned Player of the Year honors. After that, it became about how he would back it up.
Thomas has done so very well, capturing the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in the fall and following with a title at the Honda Classic before this latest triumph. He’s also been more consistent this season, as he’s only missed two cuts a season after six early exits.
This is Thomas’ maiden WGC win and it comes five months after he lost in a playoff to Phil Mickelson at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
A week before his PGA title defense, Thomas is once again showing he’s one of the top young guns to reckon with.
JUST MISSED: Nobody really challenged Thomas on Sunday, so there was nobody close. But Stanley can take solace in a closing 68 earning him a solo second at 11 under. Johnson made a nice run, birdieing seven of his first 10 holes and getting within three. But he finished with seven pars and a bogey, settling for a 64 and a T-3 at 10 under. Thorbjorn Olesen matched that closing 64 for a T-3.
SHOT OF THE DAY: Jhonattan Vegas closes his week in style. He only places T-53, but he has a closing 2-under 68 that ends with a beautiful chip-in birdie.
SHORT SHOTS: Brooks Koepka closes in 67 to finish solo fifth at 9 under. … Rory McIlroy began the day in a great lurking position at three back but faltered on Sunday. He birdied the second but bogeyed five of his next 13 holes. A 3-over 73 relegated him to a tie for sixth at 8 under. … Day plays his final six holes in 5 over to finish with 73 and drop to T-10 at 7 under. … Ian Poulter closes in 74 to also find himself T-10. … Rickie Fowler closes in 73 to tie for 17th at 5 under. … Phil Mickelson finishes T-24 at 3 under. … Tiger Woods struggles again, firing his second straight 73 to place T-31 at even par. Gwk