Justin Thomas says he is relishing the tough U.S. Open conditions despite seeing his chances of winning back-to-back majors surely disappear.

The 29-year-old, who won the US PGA Championship last month, carded a third-round 72 on Saturday to leave him on three over par going into the final day.

Thomas had no complaints over the set-up at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the wind made life difficult for the best players in the world once again.

"I played really, really well," he told a media conference. "It was very difficult out there. I just didn't get anything out of it.

"I fought back and stayed very patient for having some things not go my way. It's a bummer to finish with a bogey on 18, but I really played solid today.

"I hit it really well. I drove it well. Hit my irons really well. Just had a hard time saving pars when I missed greens, but yeah, tee to green I played beautifully.

"I said to Bones [his caddie Jim Mackay] walking up 18, this is how a U.S. Open should be. It's very difficult. Par is great score on a lot of holes. Bogeys aren't going to kill you.

"We don't do this very often, and I think it's very, very fitting and totally acceptable to have this kind of test and this difficult setup for a U.S. Open, and it's strictly because of conditions.

"The greens are getting firm. It's windy, and it should be tough."

Will Zalatoris moved into the lead on four under with with a hugely impressive three-under 67 and he Matthew Fitzpatrick joined him when he birdied the 15th.

Scottie Scheffler had been two shots clear before a double bogey at 11, followed by another three dropped shots in as many holes.

 

Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen are the 36-hole leaders of the U.S. Open after an entertaining second round at The Country Club on Friday, tied at five under.

Dahmen was one stroke off the lead after the first round, and he followed it up with a strong 68 in windy conditions. He is one of three players to shoot 68 or better in the opening two rounds. Morikawa came into the day at one under, and shot the round of the day as the only player to get around in 66. 

One stroke back from the lead is a five-man group headlined by stars Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, along with American duo Hayden Buckley and Aaron Wise. Buckley and Wise were the two players along Dahmen to shoot back-to-back 68s.

Beau Hossler joined that group at four under thanks to a chip-in birdie on his final hole.

World number one Scottie Scheffler is part of the group at three under, and he shared the early clubhouse lead following a three-under 67. He is joined by Nick Hardy, Matthew NeSmith, Patrick Rodgers and Brian Harman to round out the top-10.

Overnight leader Adam Hadwin is a further shot back at two under with Sam Burns and Matt Fitzpatrick, while South Africa's M.J. Daffue – who was three strokes clear atop the leaderboard early in his round at six under – posted five bogeys and no birdies down the back nine to head into the weekend at one under.

Also at one under are hopefuls Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris, still well within striking distance, while Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka headline the group at even par.

Star-studded duo Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson are at one over, and the pair of Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau are at two over, one stroke clear of the cut-line.

Finishing right on the cut-line at three over was recent winner Lee Kyoung-hoon and Colombia's Sebastian Munoz, who has a pair of top-three finishes this season.

Plenty of big names missed the cut, with the international contingent of Spain's Sergio Garcia, Ireland's Shane Lowry, Chile's Mito Pereira and Canada's Corey Conners all one shot out at four over. Tony Finau finished five over, Cameron Smith was six over, and the pair of Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland were both at seven over.

 

Shot of the day

Cameron Young had a moment he will never forget when he conjured up a hole-in-one at the par-three sixth.

There were huge cheers after the American's dream tee shot at the 165-yard hole dropped in. Young was unable to make the cut – missing out by one stroke – but not without achieving a rare feat.

Player of the day - Collin Morikawa

Morikawa produced the round of the day to ensure he is the man to catch heading into the weekend.

The two-time major winner was not at his brilliant best, but five birdies and just the one bogey at the par-five fourth putting him in the lead.

Chipping in

Morikawa: "No one has taken it deep so far and kind of run away, but you know what, right now my game feels really good. The last few days is a huge confidence booster for me heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can kind of make some separation somehow."

Scheffler: "I've been number one in the world for a while now, and it doesn't really feel like it, so I kind of like just under the radar. I can show up and do my thing and then go home and rest."

 

A little birdie told me...

- Young's ace was the 48th in US Open history.

- Nick Hardy and M.J. Daffue emerged from the Springfield, Ohio qualifying. They both held a share of the lead on Friday.

- Scheffler is bidding to become only the second player to win this major while world number one since the Official World Golf Rankings began in 1986. Tiger Woods (2000, 2002 and 2008) is the only man to achieved that.

- Matthew Fitzpatrick is looking to emulate Jack Nicklaus by winning the US Amateur and US Open on the same course.

The season's third major begins on Thursday in Brookline, Massachusetts as the U.S. Open gets under way at The Country Club.

There will be a strange feeling at the tournament with it being the first major since the controversial LIV Golf International Series began.

The USGA has confirmed that players involved in the Saudi-backed breakaway who qualified for the U.S. Open will still be allowed to compete, despite the PGA Tour taking a harder stance and suspending those who played in last week's inaugural LIV Golf event in London.

That means the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia will be present in Brookline.

Tiger Woods will not participate due to fitness concerns, but there are plenty of other potential candidates to go for victory at The Country Club, such as world number one Scottie Scheffler and defending champion Jon Rahm.

Stats Perform's experts have taken a look at who they believe could succeed.

RORY'S THE STORY AND HE'S PRIMED FOR MORE GLORY – Russell Greaves

Rory McIlroy has set the standards on and off the course in recent weeks, his win at the Canadian Open coming after he had pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour in the midst of the inaugural LIV Golf event. That was the Northern Irishman's 21st PGA Tour title, fittingly edging him ahead of LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a fact McIlroy himself was quick to point out. In Massachusetts, McIlroy can distinguish himself even further from the likes of two-time major winner Norman as he seeks a fifth such title and second at this event. With accuracy off the tee likely to yield a premium on this course, McIlroy has the game to match his momentum and will doubtless be well backed by punters and fans alike. Sunday also marks 11 years to the day since McIlroy won the U.S. Open, collecting his first major success in the process.

DJ READY TO PLAY THE VILLAIN – Ben Spratt

Sure, Rory's return to the winners' circle at a major would be great, but that story surely pales next to the possibility of one of the LIV Golf rebels swooping in and taking the title. Johnson likely remains the breakaway league's best bet. Of course, he would not be a popular winner in front of a presumably vociferous Boston crowd, and the form book is not in his favour either, but Johnson has the talent to spoil the party; a U.S. Open victory in 2016 was the third of three straight top-five finishes – and it was only 18 months ago he was dominating the Masters. The 37-year-old has not won any event this year, in what stands as a career first, but this would be some time to end that drought.

RAHM READY TO MAKE HISTORY AFTER PLEDGING PGA LOYALTY – Patric Ridge

"I've never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons. I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I've always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that." Those were the words of world number two Rahm, who is out to defend his title this week. Rahm finished T23 on his first appearance at the U.S. Open as a low amateur back in 2016, before he failed to make the cut in the next two years. However, he was tied for third in 2019 and T23 in 2020 prior to clinching his first major crown last year, finishing with two birdies on the final two holes to become the first Spanish golfer to win the major. The 27-year-old ranks first on the PGA Tour for shots gained off-the-tee, and although he struggled at the US PGA Championship, he has the opportunity to make history and create the legacy he dreams of in Massachusetts.

ROSE CAN BE A THORN IN RIVALS' SIDE – Peter Hanson

On the face of it, tipping a player ranked 48th in the world without a win to his name since January 2019 (Farmers Insurance Open) looks a little right field. At the time of that triumph, Justin Rose was world number one, but it has been a pretty mixed bag since then. Momentum is king in golf, though, and the Englishman scored a tie for fourth at the Canadian Open last weekend after shooting a sensational 10-under-par 60 in round four. Moreover, to win a U.S. Open you have to fight and scramble for a good score – qualities Rose, the 2013 champion, certainly possesses.

THOMAS HAS THE ENGINE NOT TO TANK – David Segar

Having won the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in May, Justin Thomas comes into this full of confidence and with good reason. He showed incredible fight to edge victory against Will Zalatoris in a play-off in Tulsa, having trailed by eight shots with 10 holes to play in the final round. Ranked fifth in the world, Thomas has always had the talent but, like many, it was always a question of putting it all together when the majors came around. With the experience of doing so fresh in his mind, and showing good form with third place at the Canadian Open, Thomas could pull off the rare feat of back-to-back major wins.

Justin Thomas called it "sad" that LIV Golf continues to dominate the headlines in the lead-up to the U.S. Open.

LIV Golf's first event took place this past weekend, with South Africa's Charl Schwartzel pocketing $4.75million as the inaugural winner.

Made possible through Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the upstart tour has thrown exorbitant sums of money at PGA Tour players to poach them away, including Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson.

Speaking to the media after opting to not play in Monday's U.S. Open practice round, Thomas said the ubiquitous LIV Golf discussion during one of the great weeks on the golfing calendar was "sad".

"I grew up my entire life wanting to play the PGA Tour," he said. "Wanting to break records, make history, play Presidents Cups, play Ryder Cups.

"The fact that things like that could potentially get hurt because of some of the people that are leaving, and if more go, it's just sad. 

"It's really no other way to say it. It just makes me sad, because like I said, I've grown up my entire life wanting to do that, and I don't want to do anything else.

"The people that have gone, like I said, they have the decision that they're entitled to make. Not necessarily that I agree with it one way or the other, but everything has got a price, I guess."

He later added: "You can't go anywhere without somebody bringing it up.

"It's sad. This is the U.S. Open, and this is an unbelievable venue, a place with so much history, an unbelievable field, so many storylines, and yet that seems to be what all the questions are about.

"That's unfortunate. That's not right to the USGA. That's not right for the U.S. Open. That's not right for us players. But that's, unfortunately, where we're at right now."

Thomas was not done there, going on to discuss why he does not think the money is worth it, but also why it is not fair to make character assessments on the players who decided to make the move.

"There's no amount of money that you could get that [can make you happy doing something] you don't love or enjoy," he said. 

"You're still going to be miserable. You're still not going to enjoy it. Although you might be miserable in a bigger house or a nicer car, that doesn't necessarily mean that your life is going to be any better.

He added: "I'm the first to admit that there's times where people do something, and I bash them – obviously not externally – maybe internally with friends or whatever it is. It's not necessary.

"You can disagree with the decision. You can maybe wish that they did something differently… being in the media as a writer, you have to write about it. I understand that. 

"But for people at home to necessarily say that Dustin Johnson is now a bad person, that's not fair. That's just not right.

"Now, again, I said it last week, I'll say it again, do I wish he wouldn't have done it, and am I a little sad about it? Yeah – but it is what it is."

Rory McIlroy saved his best for last to defend his Canadian Open title on Sunday and could not resist a sly dig at LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman afterwards.

At the end of a chaotic week for the sport, with the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series commencing in competition with the PGA Tour, McIlroy posted his best round of the tournament at St. George's with an eight-under 62.

Playing in the final group with Tony Finau and Justin Thomas, the 33-year-old finished on 19-under for the tournament in front of a packed gallery and secured his 21st PGA Tour win, moving him ahead of Norman's 20.

Though evidently happy he secured the win heading into the U.S. Open, as one of the more vocal critics of LIV Golf, the world number eight made sure everyone knew he was aware he had overtaken Norman.

"Twenty-first PGA Tour win. One more than someone else," he told CBS. "That gave me a little bit of extra incentive today. Happy to get it done.

"It's incredible. Playing with Tony [Finau] and JT [Thomas], two of the top players in the world, and all of us playing the way we did, the worst score in the group was six-under par.

"This is a day I'll remember for a long, long time. I've sort of rededicated myself to the game a little bit, sort of realised what made me happy and this makes me happy."

McIlroy led the entire way on Sunday, starting the final round in a share of the lead with Finau.

He started fast, too, making five birdies on the front nine before commencing the back nine with another three on the bounce.

Bogeys on the 13th and 16th holes opened the door for Thomas and Finau but it was promptly shut, with the Northern Irishman closing out the round with another pair of birdies.

Finau and Thomas finished outright second and third on 17- and 15-under respectively, while Justin Rose tied Sam Burns on 14-under after bogeying the 18th to just miss out on a spectacular sub-60 score.

Tony Finau birdied the final hole for an eight-under 62 on Saturday to share the lead with Rory McIlroy, coming into the final round of the Canadian Open.

Finau had the best round of the tournament so far, scoring an eagle on the par-five ninth before making four birdies on the back nine.

The 32-year-old is looking for only his third PGA Tour victory, with his last win coming in a playoff over Cameron Smith in last year's Northern Trust.

McIlroy had a tricky uphill putt to also birdie on the 18th hole, despite an exceptional approach to set it up, but he had to ultimately two-putt to finish the round after his birdie attempt skimmed over the edge of the cup.

The 33-year-old has been in confident touch at St. George's this week and continued that on Saturday, posting a five-under 65 with assertive driving and wedge-play.

After a bogey on the par-three eighth, the Northern Irishman responded with three birdies over the next four holes, before managing another birdie on the par-five 15th.

The final hole would have been an apt punctuation mark for his third round, after scores of 66 and 68 over the opening two days.

McIlroy has had to wait three years to defend his 2019 title, with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing a cancellation of the tournament in 2020 and 2021.

He is among five players ranked in the world's top ten in a high-profile field at Toronto, coming into next weekend's U.S. Open, with Justin Thomas and Sam Burns joined by Wyndham Clark and Alex Smalley on nine-under.

Cameron Smith has recovered from an opening-round six-over 76 to finish on one-under after 54 holes, posting a 68 on Saturday, while world number one Scottie Scheffler scored a disappointing 71.

Wyndham Clark was able to hold onto his outright lead at the Canadian Open with an even par second round on Friday, one stroke ahead of Rory McIlroy and the chasing field.

Clark remains at seven under after a spectacular 63 on Thursday, posting three birdies and three bogeys on his second trip around the course.

McIlroy headlines the five-man group at six under, along with American trio Keith Mitchell, Jim Knous and Alex Smalley, as well as England's Matt Fitzpatrick, who closed his round with three consecutive bogeys to surrender the lead.

Alone at five under in outright seventh is Austin Cook, who posted Friday's round of the day with his six-under 64, going bogey-free with six birdies to vault himself into contention after entering play at one over.

Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns are in a logjam at four under, as is Shane Lowry, while Tony Finau and Harold Varner III are one further back at three under, rounding out the top-20.

Justin Thomas shot his second consecutive 69 to head into the weekend at two under, while English trio Danny Willett, Justin Rose and Aaron Rai sit at one under.

The second-best score of the round belonged to Cameron Smith, who shot a 65 to land right on the cut-line after a calamitous 76 in his opener.

Rory Sabbatini and Stuart McDonald missed the cut by one stroke, while Camilo Villegas was a further shot back after going five over on his last four holes.

Wyndham Clark leads the Canadian Open after the first round of play, shooting a seven-under 63 in Toronto on Thursday.

Amid an awkward atmosphere around the course with LIV Golf's commencement outside London on Thursday and suspension for players part of the rebel tour, Clark was able to hold his lead against the afternoon wave of players.

After securing a berth at next weekend's U.S. Open in a qualifier on Monday, the 28-year-old carried some confidence into the opening day at St. George's Golf and Country Club, starting with five birdies on the opening nine.

He went bogey-free on the closing nine holes, scoring birdies on the par-four fourth and seventh holes.

Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have supported the PGA Tour's decision to suspend all players competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to all members on Thursday confirming the news, shortly after LIV Golf's first event had launched at Centurion Club near London.

All 17 Tour members competing in the first Saudi-backed tournament of the breakaway series, including six-time major winner Phil Mickelson, were informed they are no longer eligible to play in events on the circuit.

The memo warned that any player featuring in future LIV events will face a similar punishment.

McIlroy said on Wednesday he understands why some have made the switch due to the huge sums of money on offer, but the Northern Irishman is pleased with the decision to block players from competing on both circuits.

"I think at this point, Jay [Monahan] has been pretty transparent in terms of he's just going to act within the tournament regulations and the rules that are set for a PGA Tour member," McIlroy said.

"All he's doing is basically going by the book. I think that the majority of the membership that are here this week and that haven't gone and played elsewhere really appreciate that.

"So, I think he's done the right thing because these guys have broken rules and done things outside of the tournament regulations, and because of that, there are going to be consequences, I guess."

McIlroy was speaking after carding an opening-round 66 at the RBC Canadian Open on Thursday, with Thomas three shots further back.

While the four-time major winner is against the idea of the breakaway series, he will be tuning in out of curiosity.

"I think like everyone else, I'm intrigued and I'm a fan of golf," McIlroy said. "I've got quite a few guys over there that I call friends that are playing. 

"Yeah, of course I'll see it and watch it and see what all the fuss is about."

Mickelson is the highest-profile casualty of Thursday's announcement, with Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia having already notified the Tour that they have resigned their membership.

Louis Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are among the other notable names featuring at the three-day LIV Golf Invitational London event that will have 12 teams and 48 players.

Echoing the comments made by McIlroy, Thomas said: "I'm pleased. I think anybody that's shocked clearly hasn't been listening to the message that Jay and everybody's been putting out. They took that risk going into it, whether they thought it was a risk or not.

"Like I've said the whole time, I have great belief and great confidence in the PGA Tour and where we're going and continuing to grow to, and those guys just aren't going to be a part of it.

"[LIV Golf] are obviously throwing so much money at people that it's very hard to turn down. I don't care what you say in terms of that people play for different reasons. It doesn't matter who you are or what it is, everything has a number.

"They're reaching that number for some people, and I hope that they don't get others. But I think a very strong core group of us is very stable and firm in our position, and I hope that it stays that way."

World number one Scottie Scheffler remained in a tie for the lead after his second consecutive bogey-free round at the Charles Schwab Challenge, going one stroke better than his Thursday 66 to sit at nine under.

Scheffler's 65 was one shot off the round of the day, and he did it with back-to-back birdies on holes one and two, before also making gains at 10, 12 and 17 down the back nine.

Fellow round one leader Beau Hossler matched Scheffler again – but after two eagles on par-fours in his first round, he did it in much more traditional fashion this time around, also going bogey-free with five birdies.

Joining that pair atop the leaderboard was Scott Stallings, one of two players to shoot Friday's best score of 64, along with New Zealand's Danny Lee, who improved to sit six off the lead after a 73 on Thursday.

Speaking to Golf Channel after stepping off the 18th green, Scheffler said improvements he has made this season are paying off after traditionally struggling at Colonial Country Club.

"I've worked really hard, just creating a lot of different shots for myself," he said.

"This golf course is a lot about the approach play, and at first it didn't suit my eye, but I've really changed and improved my iron play and created a lot of different shots for myself, and it looks like the hard work is paying off here.

"I think I like it when the conditions are really hard, I'd rather it be very difficult than very easy.

"I feel like it's one of those things where if you're playing really good golf you can kind of extend yourself, so I'm excited for the challenges this weekend."

Patrick Reed sat one stroke back from the lead, alone at eight under after his second 66 of the week, with fellow Americans Pat Perez and Chris Kirk rounding out the top five at seven under.

Next came a five-man group at six under consisting of Americans Max McGreevy, Harold Varner III and Davis Riley, with Australian Cam Davis and Norway's Viktor Hovland.

Pre-tournament favourite Jordan Spieth, Webb Simpson and John Huh stood at five under, while Mito Pereira headlined the logjam at four under, still in the mix after his capitulation at the US PGA Championship last weekend.

Max Homa finished three strokes inside the cut line at two under, while Tony Finau and Rickie Fowler were at one under, and Im Sung-jae was one inside the line at even par.

Collin Morikawa and Talor Gooch made the weekend on the number, finishing at one over, while the US PGA Championship playoff pairing of Will Zalatoris and Justin Thomas were both at three over, out of the hunt this time.

World number one Scottie Scheffler was part of an eight-man group atop the leaderboard after the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge, played at Colonial Country Club in Texas.

Scheffler, who shot a bogey-free 66 despite only hitting 50 per cent of the fairways in regulation, was joined by fellow Americans Harold Varner III, Chris Kirk, Beau Hossler, Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson, as well as Canadian Nick Taylor and Australian Cam Davis.

Hossler produced the most notable round, with two eagles – both coming on par-fours – in his last four holes to fly up the leaderboard.

One shot off the lead were a group including Davis Riley and Kevin Na, while pre-tournament favourite Jordan Spieth was back at one under, tied with Victor Hovland and Max Homa.

Spieth, who is from Texas, has an impeccable record at Colonial, with seven top-10 finishes – including three runners-up and a win – from nine starts on the PGA Tour.

Speaking to the media after finishing his round, Spieth said he is battling his putter at the moment but that he is confident things will turn in his favour.

"I think I'm typically more comfortable with reads here, although today here was totally different, I misread a number of putts today," he said.

"But I stroked it beautifully, I just felt great about the way I putted, I just didn't get much to go.

"Those are the kind of rounds where you can either look at it negatively, or you can say at it like 'hey, that lid is going to come off one of these times, and all of a sudden they're all going to pour in'.

"It's done that for me [previously] at Colonial, so I think that's the attitude I'm going to take."

At even par were a strong international group including Chile's US PGA Championship main character Mito Pereira, Colombia's Sebastian Munoz, England's Ian Poulter, American Collin Morikawa and the South Korean duo of Lee Kyoung-hoon and Im Sung-jae.

PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas was at one over, while his playoff opponent last week Will Zalatoris was a shot further back at two over.

Mito Pereira said he felt the pressure during his painful collapse on the 18th hole, which cost him the US PGA Championship.

The Chilean has never won on the PGA Tour, but after leading by three strokes heading into Sunday's play, he appeared poised to win 2022's second major when he stepped up to the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead. It could have been a two-stroke lead, but his birdie putt on the 17th came up just inches short.

The 27-year-old sliced his tee shot on the 18th hole, the ball eventually bouncing into the small creek. A bogey would have seen him join the playoff but his approach to the green went long, and the ensuing chip also dribbled off the back of the putting surface, ending in a double-bogey.

Speaking to the media as Will Zalatoris and eventual winner Justin Thomas competed in the three-hole playoff, Pereira said he was still proud of his efforts.

"It's tough, you know, to finish like that," he said. "A really good week, but I didn't play really well today.

"I just needed to do a couple more birdies, and hit it a little bit better to win.

"I'm just happy with how the week turned out – on Monday I just wanted to make the cut, and on Sunday I wanted to win. I'll take this and learn for the future."

When asked about his performance on the 18th, he called it "weird", admitting he did not consider the possibility of the water coming into play.

"I was okay – it was weird," he said. 

"[The drive] wasn't a good stroke, but I just wasn't thinking about the water. I thought it was weird that it went in [the water]. 

"I guess when you have so much pressure on your body, maybe you don't even know what you're doing."

Justin Thomas gushed over how special it feels to finally be a two-time major champion after winning the US PGA Championship for the second time.

Thomas first won it in 2017 at Quail Hollow, and has now repeated the feat five years later, this time at Southern Hills Country Club.

He prevailed in a playoff against Will Zalatoris after outright leader Mito Pereira capitulated on the 18th hole, double-bogeying to finish one stroke behind the new leading pair at five under. Thomas had trailed Pereira by eight strokes coming into Sunday's play.

Speaking to the media after stepping off the 18th green, Thomas had one specific shot in mind – and it was not one of his best, highlighting a pure shank off the tee on the sixth hole.

"It was a bizarre day," he said. "I have definitely crossed one off the list – I have never won a tournament shanking a ball on Sunday, so that was the first, and I would really like it to be the last.

"Bones [caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay] did an unbelievable job of just keeping me in the moment and I just tried to play the golf course for what it is.

"This place is so tough. It was funny – I was asked earlier in the week about what lead is safe and I said 'no lead' because this place is so tough. But if you hit the fairways you can make birdies, and I stayed so patient. 

"I could not believe that I found myself in a play-off."

Later when speaking to Sky Sports, Thomas reflected on just how difficult it is to win a major after some questioned if he would finish his career with just the one, and admitted he did not check the leaderboard all day.

"It is very, very special," he said. "Anytime you win is obviously great, but getting it done different ways teaches you a lot. 

"This golf course is tough. Winning tournaments is tough. Winning a major is tough.

"I just tried to stay patient, and I felt when I somehow got myself in the play-off it was time to get after it and get it done.

"I did not look at the leaderboard today – Bones did an unbelievable job of just keeping me in the moment. We were just out playing Southern Hills on a beautiful day, on a Sunday.

"I could kind of feel through the energy in the crowd that I had a chance, and I know that all the players up ahead of me are great players, but had not won a major, and it is a big moment. 

"I know I am very nervous, so I know they are very nervous, and I just tried to tell myself that all I can do is control what I can and if it's good enough, great, if not, so be it.

"It is awesome. it is so nice to hear two-time [champion] instead of one-time."

Justin Thomas ultimately prevailed in a thrilling US PGA Championship, lifting the Wanamaker Trophy after Mito Pereira's collapse on the 18th hole forced a playoff.

Holding the lead coming into the final round, Pereira only needed a par on the 18th hole to secure his first PGA Tour victory, but put his drive in the water and could not even salvage a bogey to earn his spot in the playoff.

With a double-bogey capping off a final round 75, he went from six under to four under, tying for third with Cameron Young.

The playoff was contested between Thomas and Will Zalatoris after both players produced clutch shots late in their rounds to finish at five under.

Thomas – who tied for the round of the day with his 67 – had a birdie putt on 18 to move to six under, but could not convert from 10 feet, finishing with a par to head into the clubhouse in outright second place, trailing Pereira by one shot.

Zalatoris, on the other hand, bogeyed the 16th to drop to four under, but came right back with a birdie on 17. He had a tricky par putt on 18 to remain tied with Thomas, and he remained cool under pressure.

In the playoff – which was contested over the aggregate score of three holes, the first being a par-five – Zalatoris appeared to strike first as he found the fairway with his drive, while Thomas hit the rough. Thomas was forced to lay-up, while Zalatoris made the green in two.

Zalatoris two-putted for his birdie, while Thomas put his wedge to within six feet, converting his birdie putt to tie the first playoff hole.

The second playoff hole was the 17th – a drivable par-four – and Thomas found the green with his drive. Zalatoris did not, and after chipping into birdie range, he missed his putt, tapping in for par. Thomas, on the other hand, safely two-putted for birdie to take a one stroke lead into the final playoff hole.

Both players drove well and made the green in regulation on the last, and after Zalatoris failed to sink a long birdie putt, Thomas only needed to two-putt for par to secure his second career major, making no mistakes. It is his second PGA Championship, five years after winning at Quail Hollow.

Also making the top-five was the English duo of Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood – with the latter matching Sunday's best score – and American Chris Kirk, tied for fifth at three under.

It was a strong final round from Rory McIlroy, who rebounded from a disappointing 74 on Saturday to shoot 68 – one stroke off the round of the day – to finish outright eighth at two under.

McIlroy looked like he may be trending for a legendary final round after four consecutive birdies starting on the second hole, but he would claim no more from the fifth.

A four-man group of Mexico's Abraham Ancer, Ireland's Seamus Power and the American pairing of Tom Hoge and Brendan Steele rounded out the top-10, and the last players to finish under par.

Cameron Smith and Xander Schauffele highlighted the group at even par, while the big names struggled, as Jordan Spieth finished at four over, Jon Rahm wrapped up at six over, and Collin Morikawa at eight over.

Shot of the day

The shot of the day went to Englishman Laurie Canter, who birdied the difficult par-four 18th hole from the fairway.

After his drive found the rough, he was forced to lay-up 97 yards from the pin, but was able to convert it thanks to some sharp backspin.

A little birdie told me…

Before his horror drive on 18, Pereira earned his 71-hole lead with great success on the difficult par-fives and par-threes. He joined Webb Simpson as the only players to shoot a combined six under on the par-fives (fifth and 13th holes) over their four rounds

Only four players finished under par for the week on the par-threes (sixth, eighth, 11th and 14th holes) – Fitzpatrick and Rose were two under, while Pereira and Steele shot one under.

On average, nobody drove the ball further than Rory McIlroy this week, posting 347.6 yards per drive. However, the longest drive of the week went to Jon Rahm, with a 418-yard bomb.

Mito Pereira became the first Chilean to lead a major as the elements shook the field at the US PGA Championship on Saturday, holding a three-stroke lead coming into the final day.

Strong winds and grey skies meant moving day took on a more distinct meaning at Southern Hills, with four of the players in the top 10 finishing their rounds on Saturday with scores over par.

Pereira was close to making that five but recovered from four bogeys in five holes between eight and 12, scoring back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th before sinking a long birdie putt on the 18th to finish the day on a one-under 69.

The 27-year-old leads an unheralded group at the top of the leaderboard at nine-under par after 54 holes, with the top four players yet to win a tournament on the PGA Tour.

With several big names missing the cut including world number one Scottie Scheffler and Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas remains the only top-ten player in the top ten at Southern Hills, shooting a four-over 74 on Saturday to sit seven strokes off Pereira.

The last time a player won a major for their maiden PGA Tour victory was Danny Willett's dramatic 2016 triumph at the Masters, capitalising on Jordan Spieth's back-nine collapse on the final day.

Willett's countryman, Matt Fitzpatrick, is tied for second with Will Zalatoris at six-under par after recovering from back-to-back bogeys on the opening two holes to shoot a three-under 67.

Cameron Young sits a further stroke back after scoring a 67 of his own on Saturday, on the back of an eagle on the par-four 17th.

First-round leader Rory McIlroy's hopes of winning his first major in eight years faded, tumbling down the leaderboard with a four-over 74.

Starting the day five strokes back, McIlroy followed up a double-bogey on the sixth with back-to-back bogeys on the next two holes, before a triple-bogey on the par-three 11th to finish on par after 54 holes.

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