Justin Thomas triumphs in playoff, Tiger roars at Honda

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Justin Thomas prevailed in a playoff, Tiger Woods drew huge crowds and contended all week and par was protected with a winning score of 8 under.

Honda Classic organizers should probably prepare themselves for a bit of a letdown in 2019.

It was a sponsor’s dream until the very end, with the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year making the winning putt shortly before dark to defeat Luke List in a playoff and avoid a Monday finish.

It’s the second victory of the season for Thomas, who set a high bar with five wins in 2016-17.

“This definitely takes the pressure off me,” Thomas said. “I want to be more consistent this year and I want to have more chances to win.”

Thomas shot 8-under-par 272 for the week at PGA National, a brutal track which played even tougher this year due to dried-out greens and heavy wind. He reached the green in two in the sudden-death playoff and two-putted for birdie. List, 33 and winless on Tour, made par. 

Woods finished even par for the week and hovered around the top 10 for much of it. He led the field in average proximity to the hole on approach shots and fared better off the tee.

“Feel very positive about it,” Woods said. “I missed the golf ball in the correct spots and I had control of my ball. That’s something I’m very proud of. … The more I play tournament golf, the better I’ll get at it.”

He struggled all week at the Bear Trap, playing the tough stretch of holes No. 15-17 at 8 over par, but this was his most promising week in nearly three years.

“I just like the fact that he’s shaping shots and hitting them where he’s looking,” caddie Joe LaCava said. “That’s the most important thing to me.”

Woods finished 12th at even par. Alex Noren was third at 7 under and Tommy Fleetwood fourth at 6 under.

Tiger still had an outside chance to win entering Sunday’s final round and was four shots back with four holes left. Thomas, 23, had rarely seen this side of Woods.

He might soon get used to it. 

“It’s funny because every other time that I’ve had a chance to win … I get a text from him or hear from him,” Thomas said. “Kind of giving me a little advice or just kind of wishing me luck. Got crickets last night. I knew he had one thing in mind.”

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