Thomas wins in Boston for fifth victory of the year
06 SEP 2017
By Dave Kaplan
They might as well just give Justin Thomas the Player of the Year award right now.
The 24-year-old won his fifth tournament of the season on Monday evening at TPC Boston, firing a 5-under 66 to win the Dell Technologies Championship by three strokes.
Thomas began the final round tied with Marc Leishman and could only watch as the Australian went out with a 30 after making six birdies and no bogeys in his opening nine holes. Thomas played well regardless of Leishman’s wizardry, carding a 4-under 32 on the front, but still trailed the Australian by two shots after making the turn. However, Leishman fell apart down the stretch with five bogeys over his final nine holes, which opened the door for Thomas to cruise to an easy victory.
The Louisville native’s win was one for the history books, as he joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Jordan Spieth as the only players under the age of 25 since 1960 to win five tournaments, including a major, over the course of one season. The victory also moved JT to 4th in the world golf rankings, ahead of Jon Rahm (5th) and Rory McIlroy (6th).
Just like Leishman, Jordan Spieth began the day on fire by also shooting a 6-under 30 on the front nine. So, it seemed, for a little while at least, as if we were going to have an entertaining three-man race down the stretch, involving two of the more electrifying young players in the game. Unfortunately, Spieth made three bogeys over his final seven holes and couldn’t muster a late charge to challenge Thomas. The Texan did, however, finish as the runner-up for the second straight week and, as a result, overtook Dustin Johnson for the lead in the FedEx Cup rankings. Thomas also moved past DJ in the standings and currently sits in second place, less than 30 points behind Spieth.
Jon Rahm finished the week in a tie for 4th with England’s Paul Casey at 12-under par, but did not move up the rankings and remains in fifth place with 2894 points heading into the third stage of the playoffs. The Spaniard led all players after 36 holes but lost some ground in his third round when he shot even par for the day. Nonetheless, the rookie has now finished 4th or better in each of his two career playoff starts and could very well be the one with the $10 million cheque in his hands at East Lake if he can sustain this elite level of play.
Pat Perez, Patrick Reed, Kevin Na, and Phil Mickelson all tied for 6th place at 11-under par and bolstered their chances of sticking around for the Tour Championship at the end of the month. Perez improved four spots in the FedEx Cup rankings to the 10th, while Reed jumped 11 spots to 22nd overall. Mickelson (36th) and Na (40th) both catapulted over 20 places and can easily claim one of the final 30 spots for East Lake with another excellent performance next week.
As can Patrick Cantlay and Dundas, Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes, who both improved their positions in the standings by finishing their weeks in a five-way tie for 13th place. Cantlay has not missed a cut in 11 starts this season and was excellent once again last week, jumping nine spots to 41st overall. The Canadian moved up 6 spots to 31st and now only needs to make up a total of 24 points to play in his first Tour Championship. Cantlay and Hughes have had tremendous rookie seasons and I would not be the least bit surprised if both players qualify for the tour finale in Atlanta.
Adam Hadwin tied Cantlay and Hughes at 8-under for the week and moved up two spots to 16th overall in the standings, although it was likely not the result that the Moose Jaw native was hoping for. Hadwin contended for most of the tournament and even began his final round only two shots back of Thomas and Leishman. However, the 29-year-old struggled to score on Monday and grinded his way to a 2-over 73.
Unfortunately, both Graham DeLaet and Nick Taylor did not earn enough FedEx Cup points last week to advance to the BMW Championship.
The PGA Tour takes a break this week before resuming the penultimate stage of the playoffs next Thursday, September 14, at Conway Farms in Illinois. Until then, there is plenty of time to debate just who will fall outside of the Top 30, who will advance to the Tour Championship, and who will win the FedEx Cup.
Dave Kaplan is a Toronto-based freelance writer and golf fanatic who is sneaky long off the tee. He’s on a crusade to inject a youthful perspective into golf media, especially the broadcast booth. Follow him on Twitter @davykap