Justin Thomas had more stress than he wanted Sunday, but the world’s 10th-ranked golfer responded with the shots he needed at Medinah (Ill.) Country Club to win the BMW Championship and claim the No. 1 seed going into the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup finale.
Thomas watched a six-shot lead shrink to two in a span of three holes around the turn until he regained control with two great wedges, and two pivotal putts. One last birdie gave him a 4-under-par 68 and a three-shot victory over Patrick Cantlay.
“I was really nervous today. It’s hard to play with a lead,” Thomas said. “You don’t know how often things like this will happen, and it feels great.”
The victory, the first for Thomas since a World Golf Championship event in Akron, Ohio, last August, gives him a two-shot lead starting the Tour Championship on Thursday at East Lake in Atlanta as the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup chase the $15 million prize.
The players will have a staggered start based on their position in the FedEx Cup, meaning Thomas starts at 10-under par. The top 30 will not include Masters champion Tiger Woods, who is the FedEx Cup’s defending champion.
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Woods was a long shot going into the final round to crack the top 30, and he closed with a 72. East Lake was his first victory in five years, capping his return from four back surgeries, a special moment replaced some six months later by his Masters victory.
“It’s disappointing,” Woods said. “Last year culminated in a pretty special moment for me and would have been nice to go back there.”
U.S. Amateur: Georgia Tech’s Andy Ogletree rallied in Pinehurst, N.C., to beat Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein 2 and 1 in the 36-hole final.
Ogletree was 4 down early in the morning round, but he won four of the final seven holes on the No. 2 course to claim the championship in a matchup of 21-year-old college seniors.
“I showed a lot of resilience out there and never gave up,” Ogletree said. “Kept telling myself I’m going to win this tournament and always believed that.”
European Tour: Thomas Pieters shot a 3-under 69 in Vysoky Ujezd, Czech Republic, to become the first player to win the Czech Masters for a second time.
Pieters, who finished at 19-under 269 for a one-shot win over Adri Arnaus, also won the tournament in 2015.
Briefly: Doug Barron became the 13th Monday qualifier to win a PGA Tour Champions event, holing two 15-foot birdie putts after a rain delay to beat Fred Couples by two strokes in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y. Barron closed with a 6-under 66 to finish at 17-under 199. … In Columbus, Ohio, Scottie Scheffler closed with a 4-under 67 to finish at 12-under 272 for a two-shot victory over three players in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals opener. … Recent Stanford graduates Isaiah Salinda and Brandon Wu were named to the 10-man U.S. roster for the Walker Cup. The U.S. squad, which also includes Ogletree and Augenstein, will face Great Britain and Ireland next month in England. The U.S. won the Walker Cup 19-7 two years ago in Los Angeles.
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