Justin Thomas made history with his astonishing final-round comeback after his rival fell apart on the last hole of the PGA Championship.
Justin Thomas defeated fellow American Will Zalatoris by one stroke in a three-hole aggregate playoff to win the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
Thomas, the 2017 PGA champion captured his second major title by going two-under par in the playoff, with Zalatoris on one-under.
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Zalatoris and Thomas each birdied the par-5 13th. At the par-4 17th, Thomas drove the green and two-putted for birdie from 36 feet while Zalatoris chipped to seven feet but missed his birdie bid.
At the 18th hole, Zalatoris missed a 40-foot birdie try and Thomas two-putted from 26 feet, tapping in for par and the victory.
Thomas, who began the day seven strokes adrift, matched the greatest last-round comeback in PGA history; American John Mahaffey’s seven-shot rally at Oakmont in 1978.
The title came after a heartbreaking last-hole collapse by Chile’s Mito Pereira, who led all day only to end with a double-bogey disaster and squander the trophy.
Thomas fired a three-under-par 67 in the final round and Zalatoris, last year’s Masters runner-up, shot 71 to finish 72 holes at Southern Hills deadlocked on five-under 275.
Pereira, who clung to at least a share of the lead throughout a dramatic final round, only needed par on the final hole to claim the trophy but drove way right into water on the way to a double bogey to tumble from the lead, shooting a 75 to share third with American Cameron Young on 276.
Pereira won plenty of praise for how he handled the defeat as he fronted up to journalists and TV cameras after the gut-wrenching fade.
“It’s tough to finish like that,” Pereira told CBS. “I didn’t play really well today, just need a couple more birdies and hit it a little bit better to win.
“I’m just happy with how the week turned out. On Monday, I just wanted to make the cut. On Sunday, I wanted to win.
“I wasn’t thinking about the water. I hit it in the water. It’s weird that it went in.
“But I guess you have so much pressure in your body that you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Originally published as World reacts to star’s historic PGA Championship comeback after rival implodes