Sam Torrance: Justin Thomas is still firing on all cylinders and will be in the frame for every Major

 
Sam Torrance
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The Honda Classic - Final Round
Thomas has won 23 per cent of his last 31 starts (Source: Getty)

You could see the effect that becoming a Major winner last year has had on Justin Thomas in the way that he played the 18th on his final round at the Honda Classic on Sunday.

In the midst of a two-way fight for the title, and with chief rival and playing partner Luke List reaching the green in two, Thomas laid up with his second shot at the par five.

It showed tremendous resolve and belief in his short game. It also proved to be a great decision.

Read more: Sam Torrance: Bubba bouncing back just in time for Masters

Thomas hit his third shot stone-dead to within inches of the pin and matched List’s birdie to force a play-off that he would win when they replayed the hole.

The 24-year-old has won twice already on the current PGA Tour season and just seems to have continued firing on all cylinders following his breakthrough 2017.

Of the last 31 PGA Tour events that he has entered, Thomas has won seven – that is an incredible strike rate of 23 per cent, or almost one a month.

He broke his Major duck at the US PGA Championship in August and he will definitely be among the first three favourites for this year’s biggest prizes.

Like a lot of young players, his all-round game and length make him very well suited to Augusta and the Masters in particular.

List played beautifully down the stretch, keeping the pressure on Thomas with three birdies on the back nine, and looks a superb player.

Also impressing were European pair Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren, who both finished in the top five.

Fleetwood was in the hunt until he bogeyed 14 and 15 but finished a creditable fourth and, judging by a lovely interview that he gave afterwards, the Race To Dubai winner seems to be relishing life.

Noren, meanwhile, seems to be reaping the rewards of a change in approach. Once known as the hardest worker on the European Tour, the Swede is now playing more and working less – and it is paying off. That was his second top-three finish in four events.

Tiger out of the Woods?

The Honda Classic - Final Round
Woods showed form and no signs of injury as he finished 12th (Source: Getty)

He may not be the all-conquering player of old just yet, but Tiger Woods showed some very encouraging signs over the weekend that he could yet rediscover his title-winning form.

Woods finished tied for 12th at the Honda Classic – a solid performance – but was three under par and within sight of the leaders at one stage.

His swing looked good, his short game was red-hot and, crucially, there were no injuries – not even a grimace or a twinge.

Popular Pepperell breaks his duck

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters - Day Four
Pepperell claimed his first European Tour title in Qatar (Source: Getty)

It was great to see Eddie Pepperell earn his first European Tour title with an excellent win at the Qatar Masters. He won it well, too, holding his nerve despite a back-nine charge from fellow Englishman Oliver Fisher.

Losing his tour card in 2016 would have been a kick in the guts and may just have been what Pepperell needed to did deep and show what he is made of.

He came back the following season and finished last year in fine form. Now he has a first title and it could lead to anything, because he looks a very good player.

Pepperell seems a great kid and a popular winner. He writes a regular blog, which is priceless reading, and comes across as an intelligent young man who has takes everything in his stride.

I very much like his demeanour on the course. The 27-year-old exudes positive vibes and takes the rough with the smooth.

He’s also the third English winner on the European Tour already this season, after Fleetwood and Chris Paisley. With those three and the likes of Tyrrell Hatton, the future looks bright.

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