Justin Thomas defeats Luke List with birdie on first playoff hole to win the Honda Classic
It wasn't as electric as some of the rounds we've seen from Justin Thomas over the last two years, though it did have some thrills. Still, a final-round two-under 68 was enough to earn Thomas a spot in a playoff with Luke List at the Honda Classic. A birdie at PGA National's par-5 18th was all he needed on the first playoff hole to capture his second win of the 2017-'18 PGA Tour season, and the eighth of the 24-year-old's young career.
"It was another level of difficulty, not only the amount of people I was trying to beat, but this golf course itself," Thomas said. "Luke was playing unbelievable on that back nine. It was a hell of a battle out there."
While he'll certainly remember the potential disaster that nearly became an ace at the par-3 fifth as a big moment on Sunday, the most important shot came at the 72nd hole, where Thomas was forced to lay up after missing the fairway with his drive. He then almost jarred his third shot for eagle to end it, the ball rolling not farther than two feet from the hole. After cleaning it up for birdie, he ended up hitting the green in two in the playoff and two-putting for the win.
"I just stayed patient," Thomas said. "I thought I stayed very calm all day, had a couple scoring opportunities that I didn't quite capitalize on. I know what this back nine holds, I know how tough it can be, it feels awesome to come out on top."
Thomas' play on the back nine was key throughout the week, having polished off the final four holes in one under overall. That played a large role in earning him his seventh win in his last 31 starts. The latest victory also moves him from No. 4 to No. 3 in the World Ranking, passing his buddy Jordan Spieth.
As for List, his maiden PGA Tour victory will have to wait. But there were plenty of positives he can take from his closing one-under 69, one that included a three-under 32 on the final nine after going out in two-over 37. The solo second is his best finish on the PGA Tour, and his second top-five showing of this season.
"I played really well this week, it's a testament to a lot of hard work I put in, but this one's going to sting a little bit, but I know I found a new, kind of restored passion for what I'm doing out here," List said.
Finishing one back at seven-under 273 in solo third was Alex Noren, who posted a three-under 67. After a second-round 75, the Swede played the final 36 holes in eight under, but it wasn't enough to earn his first PGA Tour victory. He continues to come close though, most notably earlier this month at Torrey Pines, where he lost in a playoff to Jason Day.
Tommy Fleetwood, who carded a one-under 69, finished in solo fourth at six-under 274.