Justin Thomas Continues Dominance; Wins Sony Open

In winning the SBS Tournament of Champions in Maui last week by four strokes, Justin Thomas appeared to be in control for most of the final round, except for a brief moment on the middle of the back nine where a bogey allowed Hideki Matsuyama back into the tournament.

 
This week at the Sony Open in Honolulu, Thomas’s seven-stroke lead going into the final round led to a 65 and the same seven-stroke lead on the way out.

Nobody came anywhere close to stopping the hottest man in golf, as his 253 set the all-time PGA Tour scoring record.

 
It was the third win for Thomas in the very young 2016-17 season (nobody had more than three victories in the entire 2015-16 season), as he took both events of the Hawaii swing in addition to the CIMB Classic in Malaysia in late October.

A distant second to Thomas’s -27 finish was the -20 from Olympic Gold Medalist Justin Rose, followed by a -19 for Thomas’s close friend Jordan Spieth.

Top 10

1 Justin Thomas -27
2 Justin Rose -20
3 Jordan Spieth -19
T4 Kevin Kisner, Jamie Lovemark -18
T6 Gary Woodland, Zach Johnson -17
T8 Chez Reavie, Charles Howell III -16
10 Jim Herman -15

Other Notables

T11 Russell Knox -14
T13 Webb Simpson, Bill Haas -13
T27 Y.E. Yang, Hideki Matsuyama -11
T49 William McGirt, Bryson DeChambeau -8
T57 Vijay Singh -7
72 Fabian Gomez -1

How Thomas Won

For the second straight round, Thomas got off to an underwhelming start, this time playing the first seven holes at 1-over (six pars and a bogey).

 
Fortunately for Thomas, for the fourth straight round he dominated the back nine, this time coming in at 4-under after birdies on 8 and 9 to post the 5-under 65 and secure the lowest four round total in PGA Tour history.

Surprisingly, Thomas hit just 3 of 14 fairways, although in his defense, fairways are very difficult to hit at Waialae. Even still, Thomas managed to hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation, a number he posted in all four rounds of his historically great tournament.

 
He led the field for the week in both birdies and eagles, something that often leads to runaway victories.

What It Means For Thomas

The 23-year-old Thomas is unquestionably amazing, if that had not already been clear. He now has three wins (all against good fields) in just five events this season, and has moved all the way up to #8 in the world, the first time he has been in the top 10.

 
He will be a favorite in every event he plays for the time being. Thomas has to be wishing the next major was coming before April, but if he brings his recent game to Augusta, he will be among the most feared competitors in the field.

Another Quiet High Finish for Jordan Spieth

For the second straight week, Jordan Spieth has finished in solo third, although like last week’s Tournament of Champions, Spieth never really threatened the lead, doing most of his damage after Thomas had already established himself on a different level than the rest of the field.

 
Even still, the pair of thirds is an encouraging start to the season for the 23-year-old superstar and two-time major winner.

While his 2016 was objectively great, he is hoping 2017 is more like 2015, when he was the runaway choice for PGA Tour Player of the Year. In the final round, Spieth birdied his first three holes, and then tore up the back nine on his way to a seven-under 63. Spieth tied for the tournament lead in greens in regulation for the week.

Signs of Life: Y.E. Yang

South Korea’s Y.E. Yang has never quite gotten back to the level he was at when he shocked the world to take down Tiger Woods from behind and win at the 2009 PGA Championship. He has not won on Tour since that breakthrough victory at Hazeltine, and has not been relevant in a major since a T3 at the 2011 U.S. Open where he still finished 10 strokes behind runaway winner Rory McIlroy.

 
Over the past few years, Yang has been off the PGA map altogether, barely playing due to injuries and struggling badly when he has teed it up – as he has not posted a top-10 since 2011.

If Yang is going to make a career comeback at age 44, however, this week was a huge step in the right direction. Yang played his best golf in years, shooting 67-65-71-66 for an impressive 11-under total. A tie for 27th may not leap off the page for most, but for Yang, it’s a tremendous result.

Quotable

“It was really hard. I was really nervous this morning. I just had a hard time getting in a comfortable mindframe. I felt like I was doing what I needed to do; I was making some pars, besides that bad bogey on #4, but that par putt I made on #6 was huge, if I miss that, maybe I start worrying a little bit, but I knew I had a last 10-hole stretch I was very comfortable with, so just tried to stay patient.”
Justin Thomas, Sony Open Champion

Final Leaderboard

RankNameRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Total 
1Justin Thomas59646565-27
2Justin Rose66646664-20
3Jordan Spieth65676663-19
4Kevin Kisner70676065-18
4Jamie Lovemark64686565-18
6Gary Woodland64646867-17
6Zach Johnson69616568-17
8Chez Reavie67676961-16
8Charles Howell III65666865-16
10Jim Herman66676765-15
11Sean O'Hair66696764-14
11Russell Knox64676669-14
13Luke List67646967-13
13Webb Simpson66656967-13
13Brian Gay69646767-13
13Bill Haas67666767-13
13Branden Grace67686567-13
13Russell Henley64676868-13
13Hudson Swafford62686671-13
20Michael Kim67676866-12
20Billy Hurley III64686868-12
20Henrik Norlander67656868-12
20Michael Thompson65687263-12
20Marc Leishman68666668-12
20Tony Finau64676869-12
20Brian Harman66676669-12
27Kelly Kraft69676568-11
27Cameron Smith64686968-11
27Mackenzie Hughes68656868-11
27Y.E. Yang67657166-11
27Peter Malnati69666965-11
27Hideki Matsuyama66676769-11
27Ollie Schniederjans66676670-11
27Hideto Tanihara67656770-11
27John Huh68696963-11
36Andres Gonzales68686668-10
36James Hahn68686668-10
36Ben Martin66686769-10
36Kevin Na67676769-10
36Shawn Stefani64706769-10
36Tim Wilkinson67676769-10
36Kyle Stanley71666667-10
36Stewart Cink66706866-10
36Daniel Summerhays66686670-10
45Daniel Berger65676970-9
45Rory Sabbatini63697069-9
45Ryan Brehm68686471-9
45Brian Stuard66716866-9
49Seamus Power69666770-8
49Robert Streb68676770-8
49Satoshi Kodaira65667071-8
49Bryson DeChambeau69676670-8
49Richy Werenski65696969-8
49David Lingmerth67677068-8
49William McGirt68696669-8
49Bryce Molder72617267-8
57Vaughn Taylor68696571-7
57Scott Piercy66667170-7
57Vijay Singh65707068-7
57Trey Mullinax69686868-7
57Zac Blair70667067-7
62Jason Bohn66686773-6
63Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano67687169-5
64Miguel Tabuena67657272-4
64Rod Pampling68667171-4
64J.T. Poston68677170-4
64Scott Brown70676970-4
68Billy Horschel69676972-3
69Pat Perez67676876-2
69Jared Sawada68667173-2
69Jon Curran65717072-2
72Fabian Gomez69667173-1
73Ken Duke71657074E
74Ryan Blaum706770-3
74Chad Campbell716274-3
74Fred Funk716670-3
74Hyung-Sung Kim686970-3
74Tag Ridings706770-3
79Whee Kim686972-1
80Brandon Hagy676974E
80Cameron Percy696774E
82Carl Pettersson6967751
83Jonas Blixt7068--MC
83Chad Collins7068--MC
83Jason Dufner6573--MC
83Harris English7068--MC
83J.J. Henry6969--MC
83Sung Kang6870--MC
83Smylie Kaufman6969--MC
83Jerry Kelly7068--MC
83Colt Knost7068--MC
83Parker McLachlin7167--MC
83John Peterson7068--MC
83Patrick Rodgers7167--MC
83Harold Varner III7068--MC
83Jimmy Walker7167--MC
83Boo Weekley6672--MC
98Ricky Barnes6772--MC
98Greg Chalmers6871--MC
98Cody Gribble7267--MC
98David Hearn6871--MC
98Mark Hubbard7069--MC
98Daisuke Kataoka7069--MC
98Soren Kjeldsen6673--MC
98Yusaku Miyazato6871--MC
98Seung-yul Noh7267--MC
98John Oda7069--MC
98Cheng Tsung Pan7168--MC
98Xander Schauffele6970--MC
98Brandt Snedeker7069--MC
98Nick Taylor6871--MC
98Camilo Villegas7267--MC
113Steven Alker6971--MC
113Wesley Bryan7070--MC
113Paul Casey7367--MC
113John Chin7268--MC
113Brent Grant6971--MC
113John Senden7070--MC
113David Toms7070--MC
120Keegan Bradley7071--MC
120Bob Estes7170--MC
120Matt Every6972--MC
120Derek Fathauer7665--MC
120Morgan Hoffmann6873--MC
120Chris Kirk7170--MC
120Will MacKenzie6675--MC
120Ryan Palmer6675--MC
120J.J. Spaun7071--MC
120Kevin Tway6972--MC
120Tyrone Van Aswegen7071--MC
120Johnson Wagner7269--MC
132Miguel Angel Carballo6973--MC
132Bud Cauley7270--MC
132K.J. Choi7072--MC
132Ben Crane6973--MC
132Anirban Lahiri7072--MC
132Spencer Levin7270--MC
132Troy Merritt7171--MC
132Kyle Reifers7072--MC
140Steve Marino7173--MC
141Tadd Fujikawa7373--MC
141Hiroshi Iwata7175--MC
143Kevin Hayashi7176--MC
143Nicholas Lindheim7176--MC

Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.

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