By the halfway point on Sunday at the Sony Open, it was all over but the assault on the record books. Justin Thomas closed out his dominant two-tournament stretch in Hawaii with a 65 on Sunday to set the all-time PGA Tour scoring record in a 72-hole event at 253.
His score bests the mark of 254 set by Tommy Armour III at the 2003 Texas Open. Thomas finished at 27 under for the four-day event and won by seven over Justin Rose. Thomas also set the lowest 36-hole scoring record (123) and tied the 54-hole record (188).
|Jusitn Thomas||2017||Sony Open||253|
|Tommy Armour III||2003||Texas Open||254|
|Mark Calcavecchia||2001||Phoenix Open||256|
|Russell Henley||2013||Sony Open||256|
|Phil Mickelson||2013||Phoenix Open||256|
On Sunday, Thomas made a bogey at the fourth hole and didn't make his first birdie until No. 8. But from there, he went on to make five more including one at the final hole of the tournament to shoot his 5-under 65. His scores for the week were 59, 64, 65 and 65 for the 253 total.
"I was really nervous this morning," Thomas told Golf Channel. "I had a hard time getting in a comfortable frame of mind. I tried to stay patient. [The record] is awesome. I told [my caddie] with two holes left, 'We need to get one of these last two.' It's been an unbelievable week. Unforgettable."
It was a remarkable display of golf from someone who definitely had the record mark in sights. Thomas played the back nine with a focus that said he was trying to protect a one-shot lead at a major instead of cruising in to a seven-shot victory in Hawaii.
Thomas pulled off the Hawaii double with his Tournament of Champions triumph last week. He is the only golfer to win both Hawaii tournaments to start a PGA Tour season other than Ernie Els in 2003. Els finished a combined 47 under that week. Thomas finished 49 under this week.
To put this in perspective, the No. 5 player in the world, Jordan Spieth, was 35 under at the two Hawaii tournaments. He lost by a combined 14 strokes to Thomas. That is preposterous.
"I was telling [caddie] Michael [Greller] out there, honestly it felt like we were playing a different tournament," Spieth said after getting toasted by eight strokes. "I honestly felt like I was trying to win the tournament for second place. J.T. just pretty unbelievable what he's doing right now. He's got full control of his game, full confidence, and he's executing under pressure. It's a lot of fun to see.
"I wouldn't say a good player that's hot, and I wouldn't say it's birth of a guy, either. I would say it's just a tremendous player who's already been at that level, just takes winning a couple of times, I think. Then they start to fall."
Thomas became only the third player in the past 30 years to win in back-to-back weeks at age 23 or younger.
This is a pretty decent club Justin Thomas is about to join. pic.twitter.com/CQ7WUiZxUr— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) January 16, 2017
What an incredible two weeks for Thomas, who has had the trajectory of a superstar since he was no taller than a sand wedge. His resume has now caught up with that label, and 2017 has already (already!) been a year to remember for Thomas. He will take (at least) three wins into the Masters three months from now, and now he will be one of the favorites.
"I'm so excited for the Masters," Thomas said. "I said that as soon as I finished last year, as soon as I finished the majors last year. I feel like it's a course that's really good for my game. It was so tough last year and I wasn't playing well to where I didn't have much. It's just such a fun place to play and a cool atmosphere. I'm so ready to get back there."
Sony Open Grades
Justin Thomas (1st): 72-hole scoring record? There's nothing else to give him. Grade: A+
Jordan Spieth (3rd): You know, if Thomas had not gone to Hawaii, Spieth would have had a win and a second-place finish. Of course, Thomas did go, so Spieth is coming back to the continental United States empty-handed, but everyone should be encouraged by the way Spieth struck it at Waialae. He finished first in the field in approach shots this week which was his weakness throughout 2016. The putter will eventually get smoking hot for entire tournaments (like it did for short stretches in Hawaii), and Spieth will go on a two- or three-tournament tear that will make us wonder if he will ever lose again. Grade: A
Justin Rose (2nd): Rose curiously putted as well as he struck the ball this week. Usually he hits it far better than he rolls it. If he had hit his approach shots like he normally does (top 10 in the field), he might have rolled with Thomas on Sunday. Still, it has to be frustrating to shoot 66-64-66-64 and get beat by nearly double digits. I actually like the the putting grip Rose is currently employing with his putter even though it looks a little quirky. He'll win multiple times this season if he keeps rolling it like he did this week (top 25 in the field in strokes gained putting). Grade: A
Hideki Matsuyama (T28): In retrospect, maybe we should have seen this coming. Matsuyama came into the week as the hottest golfer on the planet, but he does not leave the week that way. That title now belongs to Thomas, who has won three of his past four PGA Tour events.
So why should we have seen this coming? Well Matsuyama does not excel at Waialae Country Club. He had played here four times with three missed cuts and a T78. Matsuyama's putter fell apart as he dropped outside the top 60 in putting this week and made far too many double bogeys (2) and bogeys (6) to contend at this tournament. Grade: C