American Justin Thomas claimed his maiden Major title after sealing a two-shot victory at the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow – pocketing $1.89m in prize money in the process.
Thomas held his nerve to card a final round 68 and finish eight under for the tournament, two shots clear of Italy’s Francesco Molinari, American Patrick Reed and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.
The 24-year-old’s victory restored the streak of first-time Major winners, which had been interrupted by Jordan Spieth and his Open triumph at Royal Birkdale last month.
Prior to that, seven successive Major winners dating back to Jason Day’s success at the US PGA at Whistling Straits in 2015 had been first-timers. Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Jimmy Walker, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka followed Day’s lead.
Perhaps there was a sense it was going to be Thomas’ day when on the par-5 10th hole his eight-foot birdie putt tantalisingly sat on the cup for more than 10 seconds before dropping in. Thomas had turned his back in disgust.
But when final group Chris Stroud and Kevin Kisner, who started the day with a one-shot lead, were through 10, there was a five-way split for first place with Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama and Molinari all in contention for a maiden Major.
As the day ebbed and flowed, Reed, Oosthuizen and Rickie Fowler, who was in the clubhouse at five under after a final round 67, all came into contention for the Wanamaker Trophy.
But as his rivals’ challenges faded and ultimately disappeared at intermittent stages, Thomas retained his composure down the Green Mile – Quail Hollow’s business end – to win with a degree of ease in the end.
Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy saved his best for last and carded four birdies in a round of 68 to finish on one over par for the tournament and tied for 22nd with England’s Ian Poulter.
American Spieth, who arrived in Charlotte bidding to complete a career grand slam, was a shot behind on two over following a final round 70.
Finishing ahead of both McIlory and Spieth was world No1 Johnson, who closed with a 67 to tie for 13th place on level par alongside US Open winner Koepka, Sweden’s Stenson and Paul Casey of England.