Justin Thomas cruised to his maiden World Golf Championship title with a commanding four-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
As Firestone Country Club – playing host to this tournament for the final time before it moves to Memphis next year – made life difficult for the world’s best players on day four, overnight leader Thomas kept out of trouble, carding two birdies and a single bogey to get to 15 under par and secure a comfortable victory.
Thomas, who will defend his US PGA Championship title at Bellerive Country Club next week, was the only man in the final two groups to break par on Sunday with a closing 69 – his fourth straight round in the sixties this week.
Fellow American Kyle Stanley finished alone in second place on 11 under after mixing five birdies with three bogeys, one stroke clear of Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and World No 1 Dustin Johnson after they closed with matching 64s.
US Open Champion Brooks Koepka was another shot back in fifth, one ahead of Rory McIlroy and Anirban Lahiri in the large group on eight under.
Thomas began the day three strokes clear of nearest challenger McIlroy on 14 under par after producing a superb 67 on Saturday.
The 25-year-old started his round with a good par save at the 1st before firing his opening birdie of the day from 15 feet at the long 2nd to get to 15 under.
After passing up a golden opportunity to pick up another stroke at the 3rd, Thomas did well to drop just one shot at the 6th after getting into trouble off the tee.
Thomas kept his round going with six straight pars before holing his ten-foot birdie putt at the 13th to open up a four-shot lead.
And Thomas held his nerve, parring his way home to clinch the title and regain the world No 2 spot.
He was delighted to say goodbye to Firestone with his first victory at the venue.
‘I’m glad I finally played well around here, just in time for it to leave,’ said Thomas.
‘I got a little choked up when I looked over and saw my grandfather.
‘It’s really cool. They don’t get to come out that often anymore. This is my first PGA Tour win with him here, so it’s special.’
Thomas sank two important putts at the start of his round on Sunday, the first for par and the second for a birdie to stay three shots ahead, and he stressed the importance of getting off to a strong start.
He said: ‘It was big because I was really nervous today. It felt like it had been a while but I guess it hadn’t really been that long.
‘I don’t know, I was very nervous, very jittery. To make that putt on the 1st and again on the 2nd just kind of calmed me and got me going for the day.
‘I was in a great spot because it’s hard to attack and make birdies out here when it’s like this. The first two days it would have been a lot harder to hold a three-shot lead than it was today. I felt like if I keep making pars and sprinkle in a couple here and there I’d have a good chance.’
Credit: European Tour