SIPA USA/PA Images Emotional: Thomas celebrates at Firestone with his grandmother.
Justin Time
McIlroy's Sunday challenge evaporates as Thomas cruises to Bridgestone win
Rory McIlroy settles for share of sixth place after disappointing Sunday at Firestone.

JUSTIN THOMAS, LIMBERING up for his PGA Championship title defence, fired a one-under par 69 on Sunday to win the WGC Bridgestone Invitational by four strokes.

On a day when his nearest rivals were fading, overnight leader Thomas stayed steady at Firestone Country Club, producing two birdies and one bogey to finish on 15-under par.

That left him four clear of American Kyle Stanley in second place on -11, while world number one Dustin Johnson and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen shared third place on -10.

Rory McIlroy, who started the day in the final pairing with Thomas, three shots off the lead, saw his challenge evaporate with five bogeys — including three in a row at the eighth, ninth and tenth.

He shot three-over on Sunday, finishing in a tie for sixth place on eight-under par.

“I’m glad I finally played well around here,” said Thomas, who claimed his first victory in an elite World Golf Championships event.

The 25-year-old said he got “a little choked up” when he saw his grandparents in the crowd. His grandfather, Paul, played in the 1960 Championship at Firestone.

“It’s really cool,” Thomas said. “They don’t get to come out very often any more. This is my first PGA Tour win with them here, so that’s pretty cool.”

Ian Poulter, who also started the day three shots behind Thomas, also struggled. He fired a four-over round that included a double bogey and five bogeys.

Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner at Firestone club, carded his second straight 73 to finish with a share of 31st. His last nine holes saw two double bogeys, three bogeys, three birdies and just one par.

“I was just trying to be as aggressive as possible and fire at everything,” Woods said. “It was either going to be 62 or 72 or something in the mid-70s.

“I was just going to be aggressive and see what happens,” Woods said.

The tournament’s final edition at Firestone offered little drama as no one got within two of Thomas.

The American, who won twice early this season before hitting a dry spell that included a missed cut at the British Open, will defend his PGA Championship title at Bellerive in St. Louis, Missouri, when the final Major of the season starts on Thursday.

© – AFP 2018

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