American Justin Thomas had a narrow victory over Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama to claim the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
This is the third PGA Tour victory for Thomas. He won his other two titles in 2015 and 2016 at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
The 23-year-old, from Kentucky, had a five-shot lead with five holes to play when the 24-year-old Hideki Matsuyama pulled him in the battle for the title.
Thomas responded with an 8-iron approach he hit from 214 yards to 3 feet on the 17th hole.
Matsuyama was one shot behind and wanted a birdie to stay in the game. He ran his 30-foot putt around 8 feet from the hole and three-putted for bogey. Thomas stroked in his short putt for a three-shot advantage, and he scored another birdie for a 4-under 69. As a result, Thomas ended with a three-shot victory.
Matsuyama hit a flop shot on the 14th for an eagle. Then Thomas placed a 4-iron into the hazard on the par-5 15th and scored a double bogey. After missing a 10-foot birdie on the 16th hole, Matsuyama lost all hope. He closed with a 70.
Interestingly, Thomas is the only golfer to beat Matsuyama over the past three months. In Matsuyama’s last six tournaments worldwide, he had four victories and two runner-up finishes both to Thomas, in Kuala Lumpur and Kapalua.
Thomas, who finished at 22-under 270, is the first multi-champion on the PGA Tour in a season that began last October. He shoots up to No. 12 in the world, a significant victory that puts him into the conversation of the increasing list of young stars in golf.