TULSA, Okla. — Justin Thomas came back from seven strokes on Sunday to win the 104th PGA Championship at Southern Hills, forcing the tournament into a three-hole aggregate playoff that he eventually won over Will Zalatoris to take home the second Wanamaker Trophy of his young career. In doing so, Thomas tied for the third-largest comeback after 54 holes in major championship history.
Thomas began his day at 2 under and roared back with a 3-under 67 in Round 4 that included a bogey-free 3-under 32 on the back nine. He birdied the first and second playoff holes and made par on the last, while Zalatoris matched the birdie on the first hole (No. 13) but was unable to hold serve over the final two (Nos. 17-18).
Thomas' seven-stroke comeback win marked the largest 54-hole comeback to win a major championship since the 1999 Open Championship. It was just the sixth time in history that a golfer won a major after trailing by seven strokes or more entering the final round.
"It was a bizarre day. I definitely crossed one off the list. I've never won a tournament shanking a ball on Sunday. That was a first, and man, I'd really like it to be a last," Thomas said after his victory. "... I was asked earlier in the week, 'What lead is safe?' And I said, 'No lead.' This place is so tough, but if you hit the fairways, you can make birdies. I stayed so patient, and I just can't believe I found myself in a playoff."
Zalatoris, meanwhile, achieved a second-place finish at a major for the second time in his career (2021 Masters). It was also his fifth top-eight finish in his last seven major starts. He began the day three strokes off the lead in T2 and posted a 1-over 71 in Round 4.
The tournament was surprise 54-hole leader Mito Pereira's to lose on Sunday as the 27-year-old Chilean opened the day with a three-stroke advantage on the field and either shared the lead or held it outright for every hole but his last. A birdie putt on the 17th, which would have given Pereira a two-stroke lead, stopped a half rotation short of the hole in a heartbreaking moment.
Pereira entered the 18th, the 72nd hole of his tournament, one stroke up on the field only to blast his drive into a creek right of the fairway. He eventually finished with a double bogey, not only giving away his potential victory but opening the door for Thomas and Zalatoris to compete in a playoff for the Wanamaker.
In regulation, Thomas stood over a birdie putt at the 18th that would have given him a field-best 4-under 31 on the back nine and ultimately been the outright win (after Pereira finished). He missed that and settled for par, while Zalatoris birdied the 18th to match Thomas for the clubhouse lead at 5 under.
2022 PGA Championship playoff
- Hole 1 (par-5 13th): Thomas found the rough off the tee but hit his third shot 6 feet from the hole for a clutch birdie putt. Zalatoris looked to have bested J.T. by making it on the green in two but was forced to tap in for birdie after a long eagle putt slid wide left.
- Hole 2 (par-4 17th): Thomas drove the green off the tee in spectacular fashion, while Zalatoris attempted the same only to fortunately land just feet from a greenside bunker. Zalatoris missed a 12-foot putt and settled for par, while J.T. calmly knocked his 56-foot eagle putt within 4 feet for a birdie and the lead.
- Hole 3 (par-4 18th): Both men made it on the green in two, though Zalatoris' approach slid down a ridge to put him further from the hole. Zalatoris putted to within a couple feet, while Thomas knocked his to inside a foot for a par putt and the championship.