Thomas rides his luck to win Tournament of Champions in playoff

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Justin Thomas said he “got very lucky” after botching the last hole in regulation but holding on to win the Tournament of Champions in a playoff last Sunday, edging Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele for his 12th US PGA Tour title.

The 26-year-old American birdied the third extra hole to beat Reed after defending champion Schauffele had been eliminated with a three-putt par on the first playoff green.

World number four Thomas stuck his third shot three feet from the pin at the par-five 18th on the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii, to set up an easy birdie and watched as Reed missed his seven-foot putt to extend the playoff.

All three had finished 72 holes with 14-under par totals of 278 after Thomas, who enjoyed a two-shot lead with three to play, bogeyed two of the last three holes.

He fell back to 15-under at the 16th before his three-wood second shot at 18 found the thigh-high grass in a penalty area on his way to a bogey in a four-under-par final round of 69.

Playing partner Schauffele, the world number eight, reached the green in two, but missed a seven-foot birdie putt for victory, carding a three-under par 70.

Reed, ranked 11, was already in the clubhouse on 14-under after capping a bogey-free seven-under 66 with a 20-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole.

Reed, the 2018 US Masters champion, had putts to win on each of the first two playoff holes but was unable to get efforts from 30 feet and 12 feet to drop.

“For some reason I was supposed to win this week,” Thomas said. “I got very, very lucky to have that putt.

“But I also stuck to my process,” said Thomas, who like the entire field in the winners-only event dealt with challenging, gusty winds for a fourth straight day.

“I truly felt like through 15 holes it was one of the best rounds I ever played,” said Thomas who started the day one stroke off Schauffele’s lead and pulled level with a birdie at the eighth where

Schauffele bogeyed.

Justin Thomas holds the trophy after winning the Tournament of Champions. PHOTO: AP