Justin Thomas was emotional as he eased to his first WGC title at the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday
Justin Thomas was incredibly emotional on the 18th green at Firestone on Sunday. He was surrounded by family, including his grandparents - who were about to see their grandson win on the PGA Tour for the very first time.
He had begun the day with a three shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, but as they both faded, Thomas remained in control. A steady final round one-under 69 ended up being more than enough for him to close out a four-shot victory over nearest challenger Kyle Stanley for his third PGA Tour win this season and ninth of his career.
With a four shot lead, Thomas hit his approach to the final green to inside 14 feet. He needed two putts for par to gain his first maiden WGC victory - and he said he did it with a bit knot in his throat.
“I can’t really put it into words, honestly,” Thomas said after being asked what this win meant to him. “When I had my (final) putt, I marked it and turned around and just happened to see my parents, saw my grandma and grandpa, and I just got a huge knot in my throat and had to put my head down.
"I never have gotten like that on the golf course before. You just don’t know if they’re ever going to see me win if I don’t win here, so it was pretty cool to get it done."
At the start of the week Thomas wasn't the most obvious choice for a winner, having gone T33-T28 in his two starts here. But by Sunday, he had beaten out the World's best players to claim his first WGC title at Firestone - which was the last time it will be contested at venue.
“I’m glad I finally played well around here, just in time for it to leave," Thomas said. "I got a little choked up when I looked over and saw grandma and grandpa over there.
“I wish it was here every year now, obviously," he continued. "To be on this run we’ve been on the last, whatever, two years or year and a half, whatever it may be, we’ve put a lot of hard work in, so it’s not like it’s been gifted to us. …
"You look at the list of (Firestone) winners and it’s not a coincidence. So it’s pretty cool to have my name added to those, and to win the last event here at Firestone, it’s pretty cool."
And he wasn't the only one to lament the move away from Akron. Eight-time champion here Tiger Woods, who struggled over the weekend to a T31 finish, said he was really going to miss playing here.
“Oh, man. I’m going to miss this place,” said Woods. “I’m going to miss playing here, I’m going to miss the people. I’ve had so many great memories, and it’s just sad that we’re not coming back here anymore. … Unfortunately, we have to move on.”
Behind Justin Thomas was Kyle Stanley, claiming solo second at 11-under with a final round 68 to post his second runner up finish of the year.
Dustin Johnson, who had looked the most threatening of challengers after birdieing seven of his first ten holes, couldn't sustain early momentum and finished in a share of third at 10-under-par with Thorbjorn Olesen - who is currently targetting a spot on the European Ryder Cup team.
Two time US Open Champion Brooks Koepka continued his good run of late, ending with a final-round 67 to claim solo 5th. Aaron Wise, Anirban Lahiri, Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy (who faltered to a 73) finished in a share of 6th, while Tony Finau, Ian Poulter, Si Woo Kim and Jason Day rounded out the top 10 in a share of seven-under.
WITB: Justin Thomas
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