American Justin Thomas rolled in a birdie on the first hole of a playoff to out-duel third round leader Luke List and win the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic on Sunday.
The 24-year-old Thomas posted his eighth win on the USPGA Tour and his seventh victory in his last 31 tournaments.
“It was another level of difficulty, not only the amount of people I was trying to beat, but this golf course,” said Thomas.
“I am so proud of myself and how I played. When you get out of position you have to try to salvage par and that’s what I did.
“I just stayed patient. I know what to expect, how tough it can be, and it feels good to come out on top.”
Thomas closed with a two-under 68 to catch 54-hole leader List, who had a one-under 69. They both finished with an eight-under 272 total at the PGA National course.
Sweden’s Alex Noren shot a three-under 67 to finish alone in third, just one stroke back of the leaders.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood placed fourth after shooting a 69 to reach six-under 274 total, two shots adrift of Thomas and List.
Tiger Woods fired an even-par 70 in the fourth round for an even-par 280 total to land in 12th place.
Thomas hit a beautiful approach shot on the only hole of the playoff as his ball sailed over a bunker and landed on the green giving him a long downhill putt for birdie.
His first putt stopped four feet (1.2 meters) short but he made no mistake on the second putt for the victory that will move him into number three in the world rankings.
American List got into trouble off the tee as his drive on 18 went right and landed in the middle of a small cluster of trees. His next shot sailed way left over the gallery and into the grandstand fence. He two-putted for a par.
‘Stings a little bit’
“It is going to sting a little bit,” said List. “In a playoff, you can’t give Justin a par because he is going to hit birdies.”
Thomas’ final round was not without controversy. He tried to have a spectator removed on the 16th tee for heckling him and then had to apologize after the tournament for using a four-letter word on the green at 18 when he made the winning putt live on television.
“I feel pretty terrible and uncomfortable. Everybody heard that,” Thomas said.
Woods followed his 69 in the third round with a 70 on Sunday to finish eight shots back of the top spot on the difficult Florida golf course.
Saturday’s 69 was the first score in the 60s in nine rounds this year for the 14-time major winner, who returned to US PGA Tour competition late January at Torrey Pines after back problems.
“I made a big leap this week. I really hit it well,” said Woods, the former world number one.
Woods finished with four birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey on Sunday. He says his game and his problematic back are starting to feel good again and the key is to maintain his rigorous fitness routine.
“I played well this week,” he said. “Overall I am very pleased with the progress I have made.
“My body feels good. I need to keep it feeling good. I need to get back in the gym and keep it strong.”
Earlier this month, woods told a Los Angeles television station that the extended time off, due to injuries, has given him a new appreciation for golf fans.
“I have been home a lot. I haven’t been able to move much the last three months. So many people have just wished me well,” he said.
“I have been away from the game for a long enough time that I saw a side of the public I didn’t know.”
Joost Luiten fired a closing 68 to hold off the challenge of England’s Chris Wood and win the inaugural NBO Oman Open.
The Dutchman entered Sunday one shot ahead of Wood in a share of the lead but the two could not be separated at the turn.
The duo enjoyed an enthralling nip-and-tuck battle down the back nine but when Luiten holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the 16th to get to 16 under and Wood bogeyed the next, the title was Luiten’s.
Wood finished alone in second at 14 under and it was an encouraging return to form the 2016 Ryder Cup player, who had missed his first three cuts of the season.
“I’m pretty down but in the grand scheme of things it’s night and day to how I’ve been,” he told europeantour.com.
“After a couple of days I’m sure I’ll reflect and see it’s a big step in the right direction this week.”
Wood hit the pin on the first and made a birdie to join the lead but a hat-trick of gains from the second moved Luiten three shots ahead.
A birdie on the sixth kept Wood within touching distance and when Luiten made back-to-back bogeys on the seventh and eighth, the pair were tied at the top.
Both men birdied the 12th but Luiten added another on the 13th and the leading pair both made further gains on the 16th before Wood’s late bogey handed Luiten some breathing space.
“It’s always tough to win out here, all these guys are so good and they keep putting pressure on you,” said Luiten.
“Down the stretch I hit some nice shots, I made some nice putts and it was a nice battle with my friend Woody.
“I need to win another couple to get into the Ryder Cup team but it’s a great start to the year for me.”
Frenchman Julien Guerrier finished third at 13 under, with England’s Robert Rock three shots further back, one ahead of countryman Matthew Southgate and Scot Stephen Gallacher.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma fired 10 birdies to stun crowds and secure a two-shot win at the US$3 million Maybank Championship in Malaysia on Sunday.
It is the second Asian Tour and European Tour victory for the 21-year-old, who pocketed US$500,000 and triumphed with a final-round 10-under-par 62, just two months after clinching the Joburg Open.
Speaking to reporters after the win, the world number 193 said 10 was his lucky number.
“It’s always tough to make more birdies when you’re trailing the leaders, but I was calm and fantastic, so it was great,” he said.
“I’ve had a few 10-under pars, the first one I shot was in Manila two years back. And then I shot 10-under again in Joburg to win, so that number is lucky for me.”
Sharma came into the final round tied-19th, needing to make up four shots to catch overnight leaders Spaniard Jorge Campillo and South African Dylan Frittelli.
His road to victory began with an incredible four consecutive birdies, which included a 15-foot putt at the seventh hole, then another birdie on the ninth, followed by an impressive birdie on the 11th and four more in the last seven holes.
“I didn’t start well, but made the four birdies,” he said.
“Even on the back nine, I just kept playing well. It’s still sinking in, really happy with the way I played.”
— Shubhankar Sharma (@shubhankargolf) February 4, 2018
Runner-up Jorge Campillo carded 68 for an overall 19-under-par 269.
His compatriot Pablo Larrazabal was tied-third with New Zealander Ryan Fox.
Fritelli finished tied-fifth, along with Italy’s Nino Bertasio, India’s Khalin Joshi and Japanese duo Ryo Ishikawa and Hideto Tanihara.
Lee Westwood, who shot a 62 on Friday, was unable to maintain his form and finished tied-11th together with French pair Matthieu Pavon and Romain Wattel, Netherlands’ Joost Luiten, Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer and American Paul Peterson.
Final round scores of the Maybank Championship Malaysia (par 72):
267 – Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 70-69-66-62
269 – Jorge Campillo (ESP) 69-66-66-68
270 – Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 70-70-64-66, Ryan Fox (NZL) 68-68-68-66
272 – Nino Bertasio (ITA) 68-65-70-69, Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 74-66-63-69, Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 71-64-68-69, Khalin Joshi (IND) 67-70-65-70, Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 69-66-66-71
273 – Berry Henson (USA) 69-68-65-71
274 – Matthieu Pavon (FRA) 70-67-70-67, Joost Luiten (NED) 72-68-66-68, Maximilian Kieffer (GER) 69-66-71-68, Romain Wattel (FRA) 67-73-65-69, Lee Westwood (ENG) 72-62-70-70, Paul Peterson (USA) 69-70-65-70