It’s “that’s bleeping unbelievable” not my words, but those of Mike Thomas to his son, Justin, after JT won the PGA Championship by two strokes yesterday. And pops was right, that was bleeping unbelievable. And yet, when you know his game, it’s actually all too believable.
All the talk leading up to the start of The PGA Championship was about Jordan Spieth going for the career grand slam and Rory McIlroy returning to the course that he torched in 2010. Only Rory didn’t crack 72 in the first three rounds and Jordan never got below 70 in any of the four rounds as they finished tied for 22ndand 28th respectively. Much as everyone would like to point out that Jordan and Justin are friends, and they are, this tournament wasn’t about Jordan, it was all about Justin.
On any other Monday, this is the big story. The 8th first-time winner in the last 9 majors, but don’t get it twisted. Justin Thomas winning the PGA Championship is no fluke. It was always a matter of when, not if, he was going to win a major. He has that kind of game and that kind of attitude.
The PGA Championship can throw up some unusual winners every now and then. So with all due respect, and you know when someone starts a sentence with that, some disrespect is about to come, but with all due respect, Justin Thomas is no Rich Beem or Shaun Micheel.
That was clear when he dropped a 59 in Hawaii back in January and when he came on the show shortly thereafter. And when he called his shot with No Laying Up back in April and declared that he was going to win a major this year, he just wasn’t sure which one or how many. He has game and he has “it.” I don’t know what “it” is, but you know it when you see it and he has a ton of it.
And in the last major of the year, that game and that attitude showed up big-time. The son and grandson of PGA professionals winning the PGA Championship gave everyone a great story and a tremendous show. He did what none of the other contenders could do yesterday – come up big when it mattered most. For a period of time that was total carnage. A 5-way tie, each guy getting out of the way of the others, until Thomas grabbed it by the throat and wrestled it to the ground.
He didn’t back down from the moment yesterday. And that moment was sooooo right.
Then jarring a huge putt on 9. The chip-in on 13. And the brass putt on 17. Sure, there may have been some magic on 10 where his tee shot hit a tree and came back on the fairway. And where his 8-foot putt sat on the edge about an hour before dropping in. But this wasn’t a lucky win.
Not only is he the PGA Champion, but as of right now, he’s the Player of the Year. 4 wins, a major, a 59 in Hawaii, and a 63 in the third round at the US Open. That was his first major, but it says here it won’t be his last.
And I’d love to invoke Jungle Karma here, but while it’s clear a lot of guys need it, this is one dude who obviously didn’t. He has it, a boatload of it, in fact, after his appearance on this show, I knew he was clearly going to win yesterday with or without it.