Justin Thomas closes out Sentry Tournament of Champions victory on third extra hole

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Justin Thomas prevailed in a playoff at the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday after making three additional trips down the par-5 18th at Kapalua’s Plantation Course.

Thomas, who won this tournament in 2017, effectively added more than an hour to his victory march after spending most of Sunday afternoon with the lead.

Thomas finally holed a 3-footer for birdie in approaching darkness, edging Patrick Reed, also a past champion here, for the title. Defending champion Xander Schauffele, who had the 54-hole lead, dropped out after a par on the first playoff hole.

Despite being just 26 years old, Thomas notched his 12th career Tour title at the Sentry TOC. He now has more Tour titles at a younger age than any other active player.

“At the end of the day you need stuff to go your way,” Thomas told the Golf Channel at the end of the playoff. “It feels great and I’m glad to be coming back here.”

At times throughout the playoff, Thomas’s expression and body language suggested disgust at missed shots and an inability to capitalize. He said he tried to remind himself that he was still in it for a reason.

Thomas had been on fire mid-round on Sunday, making six birdies in an eight-hole stretch including four consecutive from Nos. 8-11.

“I truly felt like through 15 holes, it was one of the best rounds I’ve ever played,” he said. “I was in such control tee to green, I was putting it beautifully, my irons were awesome.”

Even though Thomas seemed to lose a bit of steam with a bogey on No. 16 – where he left his par putt one rotation short – he still had a one-shot advantage on Schauffele and Reed when he teed off on the par-5 18th. There, however, he hit his second shot in a penalty area, took a drop and two-putted for bogey to drop to 14 under.

For all three men in the playoff that threatened to carry over until Monday, swings got loser and carries shorter with each subsequent trip down the long closing hole.

Thomas went birdie-bogey on the first two playoff holes before a deft pitch to 3 feet set up the birdie that would seal it for Thomas. This is his third victory in his past seven starts. He last won at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in October.

As for Schauffele, this would have been career victory No. 5 on the PGA Tour and his first from the 54-hole lead. That he kept himself in the conversation with birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15 offered a positive, and proof for himself that he can “hang” with the Tour’s best.

“I was happy with how I played in regulation,” he told Golf Channel after bowing out of the playoff. “I should have won the tournament. I think I know it, everyone knows it.

“JT was right there, but with the circumstances given I should have closed it out but I didn’t.”

Reed also lamented one that got away. He made his own good luck with a hot putter and a strong charge on Sunday. Reed had 45 one-putts for the week, which was 13 more than any other player in the field.

He also heard old demons, as a fan yelled out “Cheater!” after he struck his birdie putt, which ultimately missed, on the final playoff hole.

“It’s all about winning,” Reed said. “At the end of the day, I did what I had to do today. I went out and had to go shoot a low number, especially with how windy it was today, to give myself an opportunity and I did.”

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