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Thomas triumphs in play-off to claim Honda Classic as Woods finishes back in 12th

Thomas rolled in a birdie on the first hole of the play-off to defeat third round leader Luke List.

An eighth win on the USPGA Tour  for Justin Thomas with Tiger Woods eight shots back.
An eighth win on the USPGA Tour for Justin Thomas with Tiger Woods eight shots back.
Image: PA

AMERICAN JUSTIN THOMAS rolled in a birdie on the first hole of a play-off to out-duel third round leader Luke List and win the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic yesterday.

The 24-year-old Thomas posted his eighth win on the USPGA Tour and his seventh victory in his last 31 tournaments.

“It was another level of difficulty, not only the amount of people I was trying to beat, but this golf course,” said Thomas.

“I am so proud of myself and how I played. When you get out of position you have to try to salvage par and that’s what I did.

“I just stayed patient. I know what to expect, how tough it can be, and it feels good to come out on top.”

Thomas closed with a two-under 68 to catch 54-hole leader List, who had a one-under 69. They both finished with an eight-under 272 total at the PGA National course.

Sweden’s Alex Noren shot a three-under 67 to finish alone in third, just one stroke back of the leaders. England’s Tommy Fleetwood placed fourth after shooting a 69 to reach six-under 274 total, two shots adrift of Thomas and List.

Tiger Woods fired an even-par 70 in the fourth round for an even-par 280 total to land in 12th place.

Thomas hit a beautiful approach shot on the only hole of the playoff as his ball sailed over a bunker and landed on the green giving him a long downhill putt for birdie.

His first putt stopped four feet (1.2 meters) short but he made no mistake on the second putt for the victory that will move him into number three in the world rankings.

American List got into trouble off the tee as his drive on 18 went right and landed in the middle of a small cluster of trees. His next shot sailed way left over the gallery and into the grandstand fence. He two-putted for a par.

‘Sting a little bit’

“It is going to sting a little bit,” said List. “In a playoff, you can’t give Justin a par because he is going to hit birdies.”

Thomas’ final round was not without controversy. He tried to have a spectator removed on the 16th tee for heckling him and then had to apologize after the tournament for using a four-letter word on the green at 18 when he made the winning putt live on television.

“I feel pretty terrible and uncomfortable. Everybody heard that,” Thomas said.

Woods followed his 69 in the third round with a 70 yesterday to finish eight shots back of the top spot on the difficult Florida golf course.

Saturday’s 69 was the first score in the 60s in nine rounds this year for the 14-time major winner, who returned to US PGA Tour competition late January at Torrey Pines after back problems.

“I made a big leap this week. I really hit it well,” said Woods, the former world number one.

Woods finished with four birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey. He says his game and his problematic back are starting to feel good again and the key is to maintain his rigorous fitness routine.

“I played well this week,” he said. “Overall I am very pleased with the progress I have made.

“My body feels good. I need to keep it feeling good. I need to get back in the gym and keep it strong.”

Earlier this month, Woods told a Los Angeles television station that the extended time off, due to injuries, has given him a new appreciation for golf fans.

“I have been home a lot. I haven’t been able to move much the last three months. So many people have just wished me well,” he said.

“I have been away from the game for a long enough time that I saw a side of the public I didn’t know.”

© AFP 2018

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