Late mistakes cost Thomas shot to repeat at PGA

By Dave Skretta
Associated Press
Justin Thomas reacts to his shot after hitting from the 14th fairway during the final round of the PGA Championship.

St. Louis — Justin Thomas didn’t lose a whole lot of confidence after a three-putt bogey on the ninth hole. He rebounded with a couple more birdies to start the back nine and get back into contention for his second straight PGA Championship.

The real mistake came on the par-4 14th at Bellerive.

The defending champion had a wedge in his hands from 128 yards and dumped it into a greenside bunker. Thomas wound up making bogey from there, and then added another bogey a couple holes later, effectively ending any chances he had of going back-to-back.


“I don’t really know what happened,” said Thomas, whose 2-under 68 left him six shots back of winner Brooks Koepka. “I just shouldn’t have ever been there. I should have had it inside 10 feet for birdie and, yeah, just kind of killed my momentum.”

Thomas came into the week with plenty of momentum after winning a World Golf Championship at Firestone, and it never really abated. He opened with a 69 before a 5-under 65 thrust him into the mix. He added a 68 in the third round to leave himself with work to do on Sunday.

He had a chance, though. And it became a really good chance by the time he made the turn.

“Starting four back and then having a putt to take the lead on No. 9, I couldn’t have really drawn it up any better,” he said. “I just had a lot of things go wrong on that putt on nine. I didn’t play enough break, I hit it too hard, I had a huge spike mark in my line, and I pushed it.

“But like I said, I bounced back fine and I still had a great chance.”

Thomas now turns his attention to the FedEx Cup playoffs and the Ryder Cup and the opportunity to turn another good season into a great one.

“Looking forward to the week off and relaxing and getting the body and mind fresh again,” he said, “but try to keep this form up because I feel like I’m playing really well.”

Odd finish

Brooks Koepka’s 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole stopped a few inches short, and then he appeared to break protocol.

He tapped in.

Typically, the champion will mark to let his playing partner finish to avoid any early celebration. Adam Scott missed his 15-foot par putt, putting him alone in third.

Koepka said he felt tapping in avoided a distraction because the mark inches from the cup would have been in Scott’s line of sight.

“I didn’t want it to be in his way because I knew he’d be looking at it,” Koepka said. “It was so close to the hole, I didn’t want to take away from anything that he was doing because I knew he needed to make the putt, and I kind of wanted to get out of his way.”

Koepka said if the ball was not directly behind the hole, he would have marked it.

The votes are in

Tiger Woods beat John Daly again, this time in an online vote for the greatest PGA Championship in 100 years.

For the centennial celebration, the PGA of America surveyed media worldwide of the top PGAs over the years, and then set them up in a bracket for fans to vote online as various PGAs were matched against each other.

One finalist was Woods beating Bob May in a three-hole playoff at Valhalla in 2000, making him the first player since Ben Hogan to win three majors in a year. The other was Daly winning in 1991 at Crooked Stick as the ninth alternate, introducing the world to his grip-it-and-rip-it style.

Woods received 53.6 percent of the vote.

Woods was assured a spot in the final. His 2000 win went up against his 1999 win at Medinah and won handily. Daly’s victory was chosen over Rory McIlroy in 2012 setting the PGA Championship record for margin of victory when he won at Kiawah Island by eight shots.