TULSA, Okla. — The dominant story line earlier than the 2022 PGA Championship revolved round Phil Mickelson, who turned the oldest main champion final 12 months when he gained the occasion at age 50 however selected to not defend his title. Then the main target of the match shifted to Tiger Woods, 46, who arrived on the Southern Hills Nation Membership to renew his stirring comeback from accidents he sustained in a horrific automobile crash 15 months in the past. However Woods struggled bodily, and mired in final place after three rounds, he withdrew earlier than Sunday’s remaining spherical.
What advanced as a substitute on the final day of the PGA Championship was a glimpse of elite males’s golf’s youthful future, not its getting older previous. On a nervy, topsy-turvy afternoon in japanese Oklahoma, there was yet one more dramatic showdown between the dazzling, hard-swinging 20-somethings who’ve overtaken the sport.
In a taut, three-hole combination playoff after the 18-hole fourth spherical resulted in a tie, Justin Thomas, 29, held off the 25-year-old rising star Will Zalatoris to win his second PGA Championship. The final 4 winners of golf’s main championships, Thomas; Scottie Scheffler, on the Masters; Collin Morikawa, on the British Open; and Jon Rahm, the reigning US Open champion, are of their 20s.
Even in defeat, Zalatoris briefly laughed as he assessed how his technology had turn into dominant so rapidly.
“I sort of must test myself generally as a result of I really feel like I am taking part in junior golf and faculty golf yet again,” Zalatoris stated, mentioning his longtime rivals Scheffler, Thomas and Mito Pereira, 27, who held the lead for a lot of the fourth spherical. “We have been taking part in collectively for nearly 10 years. Now we’re on the highest stage of golf.”
Thomas, who started the ultimate spherical seven strokes off the lead, didn’t determine to be celebrating a victory after his first eight holes Sunday when he was one over par. His final-round rally tied for the third-largest comeback in main championship historical past.
“It was a weird day, little doubt,” Thomas, who additionally gained the 2017 PGA Championship, stated. “However I stated in a information convention earlier than the primary spherical that no lead could be protected right here — an excessive amount of wind and too many scary holes.”
Pereira, the third-round chief, had appeared poised to turn into the primary golfer from Chile to win a significant golf championship. Stepping to the 18th tee Sunday night, he was taking part in within the remaining group and wanted solely a par to clinch the title.
However Pereira, taking part in in simply his second main championship, sliced his tee shot right into a small creek adjoining to the green. After a penalty shot dropping from the water, Pereira’s strategy shot discovered the thick tough alongside the inexperienced. His chip from there trundled far throughout the inexperienced till it stopped within the fringe on the alternative aspect of the inexperienced. Pereira made double bogey, and completed in a tie for third place with the American Cameron Younger, a school teammate of Zalatoris’s once they had been at Wake Forest.
“It is such a traumatic scenario,” Pereira stated of the ambiance on the 18th tee. “However I did not really feel any extra nervous than different pictures as we speak. I wasn’t even considering of the water. However, you realize, I want I may do it once more.”
The playoff resulted in a streak of 19 consecutive majors, relationship to the 2017 Masters, that didn’t require further holes to resolve the end result.
Thomas and Zalatoris started the playoff with birdies on the primary gap, the thirteenth. On the reachable par-4, 302-yard seventeenth gap, Thomas drove the inexperienced and had a prolonged putt for eagle that got here up 3 toes brief. Zalatoris’s drive on the seventeenth gap was simply off the inexperienced, and his flop shot stopped 8 toes from the opening. His birdie putt skidded previous the opening, and Zalatoris tapped in for par.
With the prospect to grab the benefit, Thomas rattled in his birdie putt for a one-stroke edge heading into the third playoff gap, the 18th.
Each golfers reached the 18th inexperienced in two pictures. Zalatoris couldn’t covert a birdie putt, and Thomas wanted solely two putts for a par that clinched the championship.
For Zalatoris, it was his newest shut name in a significant. He completed second ultimately 12 months’s Masters and was tied for sixth at that occasion final month. He was tied for eighth on the 2021 PGA Championship and tied for sixth on the 2020 US Open.
However on Sunday, Zalatoris, after an even-par entrance 9, was hampered by poor placing, which has plagued him all season. He bogeyed the twelfth and sixteenth holes however rallied by draining an 8-foot birdie putt on the seventeenth gap. He additionally sank a 10-foot putt to save lots of par on the remaining gap to shoot 71 for the ultimate spherical and end at 5 underneath par general. On the time, although, it didn’t look like sufficient to catch Pereira.
Thomas probably completed his spherical with the identical feeling. After his tough begin to the day, he birdied the ninth gap and had a par on the tenth. Thomas then sank a 64-foot putt from simply off the eleventh gap for an additional birdie. On the par-4 twelfth, he sank an 18-foot birdie putt. Thomas missed consecutive manageable birdie putts on the thirteenth and 14th holes, however then splashed a shot from a greenside bunker on the par-4 seventeenth gap to inside 3 toes, a distance he efficiently negotiated for his fifth birdie of the day. That will put him inside one stroke of Pereira with one gap to play. A superb drive and brave strategy shot to the elevated 18th inexperienced stopped 11 toes behind the opening, however Thomas’s putt slid previous the fitting edge for a par and a rating of 67.
“I used to be very calm within the playoff and really calm within the remaining holes earlier than the playoff, which helped loads,” Thomas stated. “I used to be nervous, however it was a distinct sort of nervous, which perhaps comes with expertise. It was completely different than how I felt making an attempt to win my first main in 2017. No matter it was, it felt proper.
“To execute a few of these powerful pictures when you really want to, it was full physique chills.”