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Justin Thomas wins THE PLAYERS Championship

Justin Thomas Players Championship Golf

After struggling to make the cut, Justin Thomas was seven shots behind second-round leader Lee Westwood entering the weekend at THE PLAYERS Championship. After a third-round 64, he’d cut four shots off of Westwood’s advantage and started the final round in a tie for third place with Doug Ghim, a shot behind second place Bryson DeChambeau.

By the time the third-ranked player in the world was standing on the 18th tee on Sunday afternoon, Thomas had a one-shot lead over Westwood, who was facing a long birdie putt on the island 17th green. He hit a low draw with a five wood that barely missed the water on the left side of the fairway, all but ensuring a win after Westwood three-putted to give Thomas a two-shot lead.

Thomas barely missed the green, then easily two-putted to shoot a 68 and finish at 14-under-par, one better than Westwood, and win THE PLAYERS Championship.

Westwood birdied the 18th hole to finish second by himself at 13-under-par. Bryson DeChambeau and Brian Harman tied for third place at 12-under-par.

The victory was worth $2.7 million in prize money and 600 FedEx Cup points for Thomas. In addition, he receives a five-year exemption on the PGA TOUR, although it’s difficult to envision the major champion losing his TOUR card in the near future. 

Thomas jumped up to second in the FedEx Cup standings behind DeChambeau, who retained the top spot with his third-place tie.

Thomas was one of our three favorites picks to win the tournament, the fourth time in five weeks one of our choices went on to victory in an event. He was fifth in the futures odds at +1600, with Dustin Johnson a slim favorite at +1200. Johnson failed to break 70 in any round and ended up tied for 48th, finishing at 1-under-287.

DeChambeau was second in futures odds and +1300 and played in the final group on Sunday with third-round leader Westwood for the second consecutive week. A topped tee shot on the fourth hole that resulted in a double-bogey 6 set the U.S. Open champion back, and he seemed to be attempting to recover for the rest of the round. 

An eagle on the par-5 16th hole got him to within two shots of Thomas, but it was too little, too late.

Thomas jumped up to second in the FedEx Cup standings behind DeChambeau, who retained the top spot with his third-place tie.

Disappointing PLAYERS for McIlroy

The biggest disappointment of the week was Rory McIlroy, the defending Players champion from 2019, with the 2020 tournament getting canceled due to COVID-19 concerns after one round of play. McIlroy never got his game going and shot a 7-over-par 79 in the first round. The player who was tied for second at odds of +1300 followed up with a 3-over-par 75 on Friday to miss the cut by 10 shots.

McIlroy admitted that he has been distracted by DeChambeau’s increase in driving distance and that he has let it affect his play. The 32-year-old Irishman hasn’t played well since the PGA TOUR returned to action last June following a two-month COVID-19 pause.

The PGA TOUR next heads to Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., for the Honda Classic, contested at the Champion Course at PGA National. The tournament will be telecast on Golf Channel and NBC.