On a Sunday when the hodge-podge of b-list Tour Stars struggled during their first taste of major contention, Justin Thomas kept his cool and claimed his first major title.
At one point, there were five players tied for the lead, but as they made the turn and headed for Quail Hollow’s brutal finish, one by one they fell away from Thomas.
For the son and grandson of PGA professionals, Thomas became the third consecutive champion to make the PGA their first major triumph. His Sunday 68 tied for the second lowest total of the day.
While Justin Thomas’ week in Charlotte was pretty sweet, it was pretty sour for many. Here’s a look at those enjoying the spoils of success — and those were just rotten:
Justin Thomas — It take a big man to admit when he’s wrong — and I was very wrong about Justin Thomas last week. After weeks and weeks of good rounds chased with bad and up-and-down performances, Thomas was able to rediscover the form that collected him three wins before March. To this point in 2017, Thomas has four wins, including his first major, a round of 59 and the lowest round in relation to par in U.S. Open history. Player of the Year? Does the Pope shit in the woods?
Louis Oosthuizen — By now, everyone has seen Louis Oosthuizen lip syncing Adele on his flight home Sunday night in, uh, celebration of of his completion of the runner-up Grand Slam. While Oosthuizen’s runner-up was a bit of surprise — his recent form has been terrible and he has been banged up physically — perhaps it shouldn’t have been. For a guy who has one major to his credit (2010 Open Championship), his four second place finishes in majors should be a sign that, regardless of form heading in to the event, Oosthuizen should be a fantasy consideration for all big tournaments going forward.
Patrick Reed — It’s hard to believe, but Patrick Reed’s T-2 finish at Quail Hollow was the first top-10, let alone top-5 finish of his career in a major — but it was. Reed back doored his way to the best major finish of his career by shooting 69-67 on the weekend while most stumbled around the tricky course en route to big numbers. The T-2 was yet another notch in what has already been a very solid season for Reed.
Hideki Matsuyama — On the heels of his record-breaking (well, record tying) performance at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Hideki Matsuyama as atop the list of fantasy favorites for many — myself included. Matsuyama will, undoubtedly, become the first Japanese male to win a major in the very near future, but it wasn’t meant to be on Sunday. Matsuyama was in contention all week, but ho-hum rounds of 73 and 72 on the weekend kept him from making history.
Brooks Koepka — Like Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka was a very popular fantasy play in all formats last week. Unfortunately, he was also a bit of a bust. While Koepka etched his name into major championship history when he won at Erin Hills in June, Koepka wasn’t able to keep the mojo going. While his T-13 finish wasn’t all that bad, it was a touch disappointing. Koekpa opened and closed in solid fashion, firing 68 on Thursday and 69 Sunday, but played the second and third rounds at 5-over.
Jason Day — While Jason Day played golf on Sunday, his PGA Championship bid essentially ended on Saturday on 18. Day, the 2015 PGA Champion, made a run on Saturday, putting himself near a share of the lead before entering the “green mile.” On 17, Day made a bogey. On 18, he made a horrible decision on a play from the forest and finished with a very tired, careless eight. His 77 on moving day was his only round above par for the week — but it was enough to derail his bid for PGA Championship No. 2.
Phil Mickelson — Phil Mickelson and John Daly both missed the cut last week at 11-over par. And if it weren’t for his implosion on 18 on Thursday, there’s a legitimate chance Daly would have made the cut. Is it getting close to write-off time for Phil Mickelson? Eh…I’m not ready to say that — but Lefty is certainly showing his age and shouldn’t be considered in fantasy formats for a little while.
Sergio Garcia –Eh…He just got married. Lets cut the guy some slack. Don’t shy away from Sergio in the long term, but lets let the honeymoon phase of his marriage wear off a bit before expecting him to contend for real again.
Justin Rose — Justin Rose has had a very mediocre season since his runner-up at the Masters in April and that trend continued last week at Quail Hollow. The 2013 U.S. Open champion struggled on Thursday and Friday and missed the cut at 6-over. For Rose, it was his second major MC of the year. Unlike Mickelson, Rose can still be a viable fantasy option this season — just be sure to do your homework. If it doesn’t feel like a slam dunk, then don’t pull the trigger. Rose hasn’t pulled enough weight in 2017 to be worth the gamble in most formats.