Justin Thomas won the Sentry Tournament of Champions, but just barely – both in terms of play and time.
In darkness, Thomas holed a short birdie putt on the third extra hole to down Patrick Reed after Xander Schauffele exited the playoff earlier. But Thomas’ birdie came after a series of miscues, including a fatted fairway wood that barely cleared the penalty area. But a brilliant approach made up for the errant shot and led to his 12th PGA Tour win.
Earlier, after a bad bogey on the par-4 seventh at Kapalua’s Plantation Course, Thomas stood two shots behind Schauffele, the defending champion. Thomas then hit a 7-iron on the 198-yard par 3 to within 12 feet and made the putt for birdie, following that with a 3-wood from 235 yards on the par-5 ninth struck so well it brought a solid club twirl. Two putts from the fringe brought another birdie.
On the par-4 10th he hit a chippy 9-iron from 104 yards to 15 feet that led to a third straight birdie. Then a 9-iron from 162 yards on the par-3 11th came to rest 5 feet, 6 inches from the hole and when the putt dropped Thomas had a fourth-consecutive birdie and a three-shot margin. A lob wedge from 78 yards to 7 feet led to yet another birdie that kept Schauffele two back and another solid 3-wood to the back fringe of the par-5 15th brought another birdie that proved helpful as Thomas would bogey the 16th and 18th to finish with a final-round 68.
The clubs Thomas used to hit those iron shots were Titleist’s 620 MB irons (that replaced the 718 MB’s he had been using) that he uses for his 5- through 9-iron in a split set with the company’s U500 2-iron and T100 4grips are Golf Pride’s Tour Velvet. The 3-wood is a 15-degree Titleist TS3 with a Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 80TX shaft.
In winning Thomas ranked second for the week in strokes gained/tee to green and second in strokes gained/approach the green. He also ranked third in greens in regulation and first in proximity to the hole. But Thomas’ win still seemed improbable.
“For some reason I was supposed to win this week,” he said.
What Justin Thomas had in the bag at the Sentry Tournament of Champions
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x,
Driver: Titleist TS3 (Mitsubishi Diamana ZF 60TX), 9.5 degrees
3-wood: Titleist TS3, 15 degrees
5-wood: Titleist 915 Fd, 18 degrees
Irons (2): Titleist U500; (4): Titleist T100; (5-9): Titleist 620 MB; (PW): Titleist Vokey SM7
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52, 56 degrees); Titleist SM6 (60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron by Titleist X5