PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida: Justin Thomas was 16 years old when he made his PGA Tour debut with a 65 in the Wyndham Championship, the start of a career that has been filled with big moments and very little trouble.
The son and grandson of PGA professionals, he won the PGA Championship for his first major at 24. He reached No. 1 in the world. He won a FedEx Cup title. He had blue-chip sponsors. And he ended last year playing with his father, Mike, as they won the PNC Championship.
A new year of hope brought turmoil he never imagined and a test unlike anything he ever found on a golf course.
“I’ve had stuff happen in my life I never thought I’d have happen,” Thomas said after he added another big moment to a young career already filled with them by winning The Players Championship.
He got it done in a big way. Coming off two missed cuts in four starts since his world felt like it was crashing in around him, Thomas was outside the cut line with nine holes to play on Friday when he made four birdies. From there, he matched the lowest final 36-hole score (64-68) at the treacherous TPC Sawgrass for a one-shot victory over Lee Westwood.
The ball striking was so sublime that Thomas, who rallied from three shots behind with a 4-under 68, was on the verge of becoming the first winner to hit every green in the final round. He hit the fringe on the final hole.
Thomas choked up thinking about his grandfather, Paul, who died last month. Mike Thomas broke down thinking about the toll the last few months have taken on him and his son.