It appears the youth movement shaking up the PGA Tour is here to stay. After a season in which we saw Jordan Spieth win two majors and the Player of the Year Award, his good friend Justin Thomas beat out Adam Scott by a single shot in Malaysia to claim his first PGA Tour victory. Here’s how it all went down on Sunday at the CIMB Classic:
What it means: After seven top-10s and 15 top-25s in 2014–15, Thomas looked primed to breakthrough in his sophomore season and wasted no time picking up his first victory. The 22-year-old University of Alabama product showed how good he can be when everything is clicking, scaring a 59 in Round 2 and then closing out the weekend with rounds of 67 and 66 to pick up the (very early) FedEx Cup points lead and a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
Round of the day: While it wasn’t the lowest number on the board Sunday, Thomas’ closing 66 earns him this honor. He rolled in a 55-foot bomb for birdie on No. 8, followed that up with a 28-footer for eagle on 10 and seemingly had the tournament in hand down the stretch. Then, after bringing everyone back into it with an ugly double bogey on 14, he showed he has what it takes to win on Tour by responding with three straight birdies from Nos. 15-17, and a longer-than-he-would’ve-liked 5-footer for par on the 72nd hole to seal the deal.
Best of the rest: Adam Scott and his new short putter nearly ended the 35-year-old former No. 1’s PGA Tour winless drought with a scorching 63 in the final round at Kuala Lumpur. The Aussie, who hasn’t won since May 2014, poured in seven birdies and a long eagle putt on the par-5 third, and largely looked nothing like the guy who has recently been struggling with the switch to a non-anchored putter. He even briefly held the clubhouse lead at 25 under before Thomas caught fire on the last few holes.
Biggest disappointment: At least he’s consistent? For the third straight week, Kevin Na came up short on a Sunday afternoon on the PGA Tour. After trading the top spot on the leaderboard with Thomas for much of the day, Na just couldn’t keep up on the back nine. Despite giving himself several looks at makeable birdie putts, he finished with eight straight pars and settled for a final-round 67, good enough for a share of third place.
Shot of the day: Thomas coughed up the lead and nearly the tournament after finding the water and making double bogey on the 14th hole. He easily could’ve packed it in and settled for a top-5 finish. He didn’t. The 22-year-old showed his ability to bounce back by stepping up to the par-3 15th and nearly holing it for an ace. His ball rolled about 5 feet past the pin and he calmly sank the birdie putt. The rest, as they say, is history.
Quote of the day: “I just kept telling myself that it’s tough to win … we’re in a sport where the winning percentage isn’t in your favor, and I put myself there a bunch and I just need to keep doing so and moments like this can happen.” – Thomas, on his breakthrough win.