Justin Thomas' season: a look back at how he became player of the year

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Five PGA Tour wins, a major, a 59, a 63 at the US Open and the FedEx Cup- it was a phenomenal year for PGA Tour Player of the year Justin Thomas

As Thomas heads to Malaysia in the hopes of winning the CIMB Classic for the third time in a row this week - we take a look back at his outstanding year, and how a victory in this event provided a springboard for his successful season. 

The PGA Tour season started at the Safeway Open, and for Thomas who finished tied 8th - it was the first of 11 top 10s he would record in the 2016/17 season (12 if you count the Dunlop Phoenix Open).

WATCH: In this video from the PGA Tour below, Justin Thomas breaks down his season 

 

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October 2016: Victory at the CIMB Classic

Justin Thomas kisses CIMB Classic trophy

For his second event of the season Thomas headed back to the CIMB Classic, aiming to double his PGA Tour title count with a second victory at the venue where he won his first. He began the final round four shots behind Anirban Lahiri, but the American raced to an eight-under 64 and a total of 23-under-par to end up finishing two shots clear of Hideki Matsuyama.

After the CIMB Classic saw him jumping from 35th to 21st in the World Rankings, he then finished T23 at the WGC HSBC Championships and followed by a T4 at the Dunlop Phoenix Open on the Japan Tour to end 2016 on a high. But it was only to get better in 2017.

Jan 2017: Back to back victories and a 59

Justin Thomas 59

The first two weeks of January were a huge milestone for Thomas' career, gaining his third and fourth PGA Tour victories at the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open - moving himself in to the World's top 10 and joining Ernie Els as only the second man to complete the Hawaii sweep. 

Thomas raced to a three shot victory, once again over Matsuyama at the Tournament of Champions, and followed it up during the first round of the Sony Open by becoming the seventh player in the history of the PGA Tour to shoot a 59.

With following rounds of 64-65-65, Thomas set the lowest ever 72 hole scoring record of 253, besting Tommy Armour III's 254 in 2003 - and joined Johnny Miller (1974 and 1975) and Tiger Woods (2003, 2008, 2013) as the only other player since 1970 to win three of the their first five starts in a PGA Tour season.

"It's been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable," Thomas said after his victory. He moved from World No.21 at the start of Hawaii to World No.8. His next three results were MC-T39-MC

March-June 2017: More top 10s and a record-breaking 63 in the US Open

Thomas finished 5th in the WGC Mexico, had a respectable T22 at The Masters and was T4 at Memorial before he finished in the top 10 at the US Open - and broke a second scoring record in the process. 

63's in a major are rare enough, but Thomas' unbelievable three-wood to the 667 yard par-five 18th set him up for an eagle and a place in the history books. His nine-under par round bested Johnny Miller's eight-under 63 at Oakmont in 1973, giving Thomas the lowest round in relation to par in the history of the US Open. It gave him a two shot lead heading in to the final round, but a disappointing 73 dropped him out of contention as Brooks Koepka raced to four shot victory. 

August 2017: Winning his first major championship

JT PGA Champ

Thomas became the third American to win a major in 2017, gaining his fourth PGA Tour win of the season with a two shot victory in the PGA Championship and moving to a career high of World No. 6. 

With a three shot lead standing on the 18th hole, a final-hole bogey was more than enough to secure his maiden major title. The victory meant a lot to Thomas, and as a third-generation PGA member (following his father and grandfather), it felt fitting his first major victory and fourth win of the 2016/17 season would come at the event that celebrates PGA members.

"I really can't put in to words how much this means to me," Thomas said after his win. "For me the PGA definitely had a special place in my heart. And maybe a special drive. It's just a great win for the family and a moment we'll never forget."

"I know that a major champion is something that will never be taken away from you, after my name. Hopefully, I'm going to win some more, plenty more, a lot more, whatever."

September 2017: 5th PGA Tour victory & The FedEx Cup

FeDEX Cup

Thomas' sixth career Tour win came during the FedEx Cup play-offs, finishing three shots clear of Jordan Spieth at the Dell Technologies Championship - who also had to settle for runner up at the Northern Trust the week before. The triumph moved Thomas to his career highest of World No.4, meaning three of the World's top 4 players are from the USA. 

Two weeks later, Thomas was in the hunt once again - but this time he would fall just a single shot short of PGA Tour rookie of the year Xander Schauffele, who picked up his second win of 2017 at the Tour Championship. They swapped places all day, but JT's second place was enough to beat Jordan Spieth (who finished T7) to the FedEx Cup title. 

"Feels very weird," Thomas said. "It's odd getting something so tremendous, one of my best achievements in my career without winning a golf tournament, so it feels different, but it's still great."

JT finished his season with a 3-1-1 record during the USA's win at the Presidents Cup and the deserved award of player of the year. 

Thomas' Year in numbers

One: Major title, FedEx Cup, President's Cup, Player of the Year Award
Two Scoring records: 1st person to score a total of 253 in PGA Tour history and lowest round in relation to par in a US Open (nine-under 63)
Five PGA Tour Titles
7th player to shoot a 59 on the PGA Tour
Twelve Top 10s
Six Missed Cuts 
4th in the World (From World No.33 at start of year)
$9,921,560 in career winnings (not including the $10million FedEx Cup bonus)

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