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Mo Yoshimoto

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Thomas win his first WGC title

Monday, August 6, 2018


 

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

Akron, Ohio

 

 

In the final edition of the WGC-BI and playing out of the final twosome, overnight leader and World No. 3 Justin Thomas, a pre-tourney 20/1 outright, enjoyed a 1-under-par 35-34=69 in Sunday’s final round at Firestone Country Club for a 72-hole aggregate of 15-under 265, good for a four-shot win over runner-up Kyle Stanley (68) and his first World Golf Championships title in 11 tries.

 

The 25-year-old, who was also a 36-hole co-leader, claims his ninth PGA TOUR title in 112 events (108 pro) and matches Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson for the season lead in victories with three wins apiece.

 

Five adrift and in joint 3rd were Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen, who finished T10 here last year, and World No. 1 Johnson, who finished T17 last year as defending champ. Both shot Sunday 64’s after beginning the day T22.

 

 


 

 

Final Leaderboard (pre-tourney odds outright):

 

 

1- (-15) Justin Thomas (20/1)

2- (-11) Kyle Stanley (100/1)

3- (-10) Thorbjorn Olesen (66/1)

3- (-10) Dustin Johnson (13/2); fave

5- (-9) Brooks Koepka (28/1)

 

 

 

Thomas’ Position by Round:

 

 

R1: T7 (3 back)

R2: T1

R3: 1

 

 

 

Leader/co-leaders by Round:

 

 

R1: Ian Poulter (finished T10): 0-for-3 as 18-hole leader/co-leader

 

R2: Ian Poulter (finished T10): 0-for-2 as 36-hole leader/co-leader

R2: Tommy Fleetwood (T14): 0-for-2

R2: Justin Thomas (Won): 5-for-8

 

R3: Justin Thomas (Won): 6-for-8 as 54-hole leader/co-leader

 

 


 

 

Field Scoring Average:

 

 

This was the 20th WGC-BI, 19th at Firestone:

 

 

Scorecard Yardage: 7,400

Par: 70 (35-35)

 

 

Cumulative scoring averages:

 

 

R1: 68.37; lowest R1 of the season

R2: 69.87

R3: 70.20

R4: 71.18

 

Total: 69.91

 

 

Thomas: 65-64-67-69 for 14.620 SG: Total

 

 

FUN FACT: In Thomas’ 11 overall WGC’s, this was his fourth top-10 finish, third straight, and second 54-hole lead/co-lead. He led last year’s Mexico Championship at the three-quarter mark but settled for T5 (69-66-66-72). This year, he lost the Mexico in sudden death to Phil Mickelson. This week, he was paired the first two rounds with Mickelson. #PayBack

 

 

World No. 2 Justin Rose (back spasms) took a pass after finishing T2 at The Open, leaving the top 2 of DJ and Thomas. Both DJ and Thomas missed the cut at The Open and promptly followed with “W’s” in their next start. #BounceBack

 

 

DJ: Open-MC; Canadian Open-Won

Thomas: Open-MC; WGC-BI-Won

 

 

This week, World No. 1 Johnson finished 3rd and World No. 3 Thomas finished 1st.

 

 

With the win, Thomas maintains his 2nd-place position in the FedExCup standings and bumps back to No. 2 in OWGR, 1.2879 average world-ranking points behind Johnson. After a T11 at THE PLAYERS in mid-May, Thomas went to OWGR No. 1 for the first time but relinquished the top spot (back) to Johnson just four weeks later after Johnson claimed his second win of the season at the St. Jude.

 

 

FUN FACT: DJ is No. 1 in the FEC standings, No. 1 in OWGR, and now No. 1 in the Ryder Cup standings as well.

 

FUN FACT: Five players that finished in the top 10 this week also finished top 10 at the Memorial (in Dublin, Ohio) back in June:

 

 

Justin Thomas: Won, T8 (Memorial)

Kyle Stanley: 2nd, P2 (Memorial)

Dustin Johnson: T3, T8

Patrick Cantlay: T6, 4th

Rory McIlroy: T6, T8

 

 


 

 

Player Spotlight:

 

 

Jacob Thorbjorn Olesen didn’t play the Memorial but won the Italian Open that same week for his fifth European Tour title in 198 events. His closing 7-under 64 clipped Francesco Molinari (65) by one shot, depriving the Italian of his second win in as many weeks and a would-be third national open.

 

 

Olesen Worldwide Form: 3-12-6-MC-2-MC-1

OWGR: 40th (UP 17)

Ryder Cup Team Europe: 5th on European Points List (top 4 from this list earn automatic selection)

 

 

Olesen checked in off a T12 at The Open, his third top 25 in 16 majors. The 28-year-old, who’s not currently a TOUR member, used to be. He earned STM in 2013 and in his first full season in 2014, had one top 10 in 14 starts. Wait for it. A T8 at the Memorial.

 

This was his seventh career top 10 in 44 TOUR events and first top 3. The London resident’s previous best was a pair of T6’s at the 2015 WGC-HSBC and the 2013 Masters. Overall, this was his third top 10 in 12 WGC’s.

 

 


 

 

Runner Up:

 

 

Stanley bags his fourth career runner-up in 209 events, second this season in 22 starts, and goes back-to-back in Ohio after a playoff loss to Bryson DeChambeau at the Memorial nine weeks ago.

 

 

Season Form: 2-39-MC-32(defender)-15-MC-P2

OWGR: 26th (UP 12); career high

FEC: 18th (UP 22)

Ryder Cup: 14th (UP 5)

 

 

Quietly, perhaps, the 30-year-old hit on three top 5s in the four WGC’s this year (T5, Match Play; T5, HSBC) and they account for all three of his top 10s in nine overall WGC’s. Stanley led the field in Driving Accuracy, Scrambling and the All-Around.

 

WGC Form: 2-25-5-5

 

 


 

 

Back to the champion.

 

 

Thomas finished off a T28 here last year with 69 and bogey-free 67. He’s now hung up seven straight laps of par or better at Firestone, six straight in the red, and was the only player this week to record all four rounds in the 60s. The Kentucky native, who didn’t play the HSBC, finishes the WGC season with three straight top 5s.

 

 

WGC Form: 1-2-4-DNP

WGC-BI Form: 1-28-33

 

 

As mentioned, he arrived off a MC (by one) at The Open after rounds of 69-77, his first individual MC of the season.

 

 

FUN FACT: Through 41 (non-team) events this season, Thomas is the sixth player to MC in the start prior and then win in his next start, second straight: Dustin Johnson (Canadian Open); Michael Kim (John Deere); Bubba Watson (Travelers); Rory McIlroy (API); Ryan Armour (Sanderson Farms).

 

FUN FACT: Thomas is the 31st straight winner this season with either 0 or 1 week off prior to their wins. In total, 37 (of 41) non-team event winners fall into this category. #NoLongLayoffsPlease

 

 

Thomas’ Season:

 

 

This was the Alabama product’s 18th start and 15th top 25, tied for the season lead in top-25 finishes with Tony Finau, who finished T10 this week in his tourney debut. It’s his seventh top 10, first since, wait for it, a T8 at the Memorial.

 

 

Starts: 18

Cuts Made: 16

 

Top 25s: 15

Top 10s: 7

Top 5s: 5

Wins: 3

 

 

Season Form: 1-MC-56-25-8-11-21-MC(team)-17-4-P2-P1

FEC Rank: 2nd (no change)

OWGR: 2nd (UP 1)

Ryder Cup: 3rd (UP 1)

 

 

The reigning FEC champ and Player of the Year won a TOUR-best five times last year in 25 events, including his first major at the PGA Championship and his first FEC Playoffs event at the Dell Technologies, so he’s in the exact same spot – with three wins – heading into the season’s final major this week in Missouri.

 

Thomas also won the Sony (wire to wire) last season, the no-cut SBS TOC and the no-cut CIMB Classic in a successful title defense.

 

 


 

 

Why Thomas Won:

 

 

He (obviously) excels in limited-field, no-cut events. Of his nine wins, five have come in no-cut events. After claiming his first title at the 2016 (no-cut) CIMB in his second season and 43rd career start, Thomas has now won a remarkable eight times in his last 41 starts.

 

He kicked off this campaign with a win at the no-cut CJ CUP as a 54-hole co-leader, prevailing in extra time (over Marc Leishman), and then came from behind to win the Honda 11 starts ago, also in overtime (Luke List).

 

 

 Thomas’ Career:

 

 

Starts: 112

Cuts Made: 86 (76.7%)

 

Top 25s: 55 (49.1%)

Top 10s: 34 (30.3%)

Top 3s: 15 (13.3%)

Wins: 9 (8.0%)

 

 

Wins by Season:

 

 

2018: 3

2017: 5

2016: 1

2015: 0 (rookie season)

 

 

Looking ahead, this week’s PGA Championship will be his first major title defense. As mentioned, he’s successfully defended one title previously, the CIMB. Thomas has also won in back-to-back starts one time, the 2017 SBS TOC (by three), and the 2017 Sony (by seven).

 

 


 

 

How Thomas Won:

 

 

After kicking off in 65-64-67, Thomas led two players by three shots, including playing competitor Rory McIlroy, who began T2, three back, and labored to a two-birdie, five-bogey 73.

 

He found eight (of 14) fairways and 13 greens in regulation, gaining 1.412 strokes approaching and 1.807 tee-to-green. Thomas squared a lone bogey-5 at hole 6, outpaced by two birdies at 2 and 13, both from between 10 and 15 feet. He posted 1.846 putts per GIR and 0.376 SG: Putting with 29 total putts.

 

The closest anyone got was Columbus resident and World No. 10 Jason Day, who climbed to within two shots after three straight birdies at 10-12, but the Aussie played his final six holes in 5-over with bogeys at 13, 14 and 17, and double bogey-7 at 16.

 

For the week, Thomas tallied 21 birdies, No. 1 in that stat, against six bogeys, T1 in that stat. He was also No. 1 in Par-4 Scoring, SG: Approach, and Proximity to Hole. See his full stats at the bottom.

 

 


 

 

Odds Favorite(s) Outright:

 

 

Dating to the beginning of the 2016-17 season (135 events), the pre-tourney fave/co-fave has won 10 times.

 

 

This Season:

 

 

41 (non-team) tournaments

4 pre-tourney fave/co-faves won:

 

 

Dustin Johnson: 11/2 (Canadian Open)

Dustin Johnson: 6/1 (St. Jude)

 

Jon Rahm: 8/1 (CareerBuilder)

Justin Thomas: 15/2 (CJ CUP)

 

 

 

Johnson was the pre-tourney 13/2 fave this week and after sitting T46 thru 36 holes (69-71), back-doored a top 3 with bogey-free 66 and 64. His only blemish in his final 43 holes came at the 72nd hole after an errant tee shot.

 

Last week, the 34-year-old won the final Canadian Open held at Glen Abbey, and eight starts ago, won the final edition of the St. Jude Classic as we know it, next season becoming a WGC event. His Sunday 64 almost won him the final WGC-Bridgestone but after a course-record-tying 29 on his first half (6 birdies), stalled out to one birdie and one bogey the rest of the way.

 

The five-time WGC champion records his 13th top 10 in 34 WGC’s, third this season in four tries.

 

WGC Form: 3-7-59-2

 

Note: Johnson should have won the HSBC but gave up a six-shot lead after 54 holes with 5-over 77, finishing T2 to winner Rose, who shot 67.

 

This was his 13th top 25 of the season in 15 starts and a season-leading 10th top 10, fifth in his last six starts.

 

 

Season Form: 3-1-MC-3-1-8-17-16-10-59-7-16-2-1-2

FEC: 1st (no change)

OWGR: 1st (no change)

Ryder Cup: 1st (UP 1)

 

 

FUN FACT: Johnson has seven top 5s this season, all 1st- 2nd- or 3rd-place finishes.

 

 


 

 

41

 

 

Through 41 (non-team) events this season:

 

 

14 winners were in their 20s (Thomas age: 25)

22 were in their 30s

5 were in their 40s

 

 

Note: Andrew Putnam, age 29, won the opposite-field Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada, as the 54-hole leader and a pre-tourney 25/1 outright. It’s his first TOUR title in 49 events (48 pro), and improves to 1-for-2 as a 54-hole leader/co-leader. The Pepperdine alum and Tacoma, Washington, native was a 54-hole co-leader with eventual champ Dustin Johnson at the St. Jude eight weeks and five starts ago, and finished runner-up (six shots adrift) after a 2-over 72.

 

 

 

23

 

 

23 (of 41) winners this season had a top-25 finish the start prior (56.0%):

Thomas? No: CUT (The Open)

Putnam? Yes: T8 (Canadian Open)

 

 

 

13

 

 

13 (of 41) winners this season had a top-10 finish the start prior (31.7%)

Thomas? No: CUT (The Open)

Putnam? Yes: T8 (Canadian Open)

 

 


 

 

Draw:

 

 

Although a no-cut event, they played the first two rounds in twosomes off split tees with a morning and afternoon wave:

 

 

13 players finished in the top 10:

 

 

EARLY/late (8):

 

Kyle Stanley (2nd); Thorbjorn Olesen (T3); Brooks Koepka (5th); Aaron Wise (T6); Patrick Cantlay (T6); Anirban Lahiri (T6); Rory McIlroy (T6); Jason Day (T10)

 

 

LATE/early (5):

 

Justin Thomas (Won); Dustin Johnson (T3); Si Woo Kim (T10); Tony Finau (T10); Ian Poulter (T10)

 

 

FUN FACT: Aaron Wise was low WGC debutant (of 7), low TOUR rookie (of 3), and tied low tourney debutant (of 24) with Patrick Cantlay with T6 on 8-under 272 (67-71-67-67).

 

 

 

30

 

 

30 (of 41 non-team) tourneys this season with a traditional draw:

 

 

Winners:

 

 

EARLY/late: 15

 

LATE/early: 15 (Thomas, Putnam)

 

 

FUN FACT: Putnam was the fourth straight LATE/early winner at the Barracuda.

 

 


 

 

Low Rounds:

 

 

R1: 62: Ian Poulter

 

R2: 63: Tommy Fleetwood

 

R3: 65: Rickie Fowler  

 

R4: 63: Charl Schwartzel

 

 

 

Bogey-free Rounds:

 

 

R1: (8): Ian Poulter (62); Rickie Fowler (63); Rory McIlroy (65); Luke List (65); Jason Day (65); Patrick Reed (66); Daniel Berger (67); Matt Kuchar (68)

 

R2: (3): Tommy Fleetwood (63); Louis Oosthuizen (66); Tyrrell Hatton (67)

 

R3: (3): Rickie Fowler (65); Rory McIlroy (66); Dustin Johnson (66)

 

R4: (0)

 

 

Multiple Bogey-free Rounds (2 players):

 

Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler (x2)

 

 


 

 

Thomas’ Weekly Stats (ranking of 71 players):

 

 

Birdies: 21 (1st)

Bogeys: 6 (T1)

 

 

Par-3 Scoring: 3.00 (T29)

Par-4 Scoring: 3.75 (1st)

Par-5 Scoring: 4.63 (T24)

 

 

Driving Distance (all drives): 306.0 yards (24th)

Driving Accuracy: 33/56 (T11) at 58.93%

GIR: 54/72 (T2) at 75.00%

Proximity to Hole: 24’11” (1st)

Putts per GIR: 1.667 (T2)

Total Putts: 110 (T10)

Putts by Round: 29-24-28-29

Scrambling: 12/18 (T15) at 66.67%

All Around: 2nd     

 

 

SG: Off-the-Tee: 0.520 (28th)

SG: Approach-the-Green: 7.637 (1st)

SG: Around-the-Green: 1.768 (17th)

SG: Putting: 4.695 (4th)

SG: Tee-to-Green: 9.925 (4th)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



You can find Mo on Twitter @Bears3423.
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