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Justin Thomas

Golf has a new World No 1 (again)

Justin Thomas edged an epic final day at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, but it will feel like a win for Brooks Koepka ahead of the year’s first major

 

Jon Rahm’s reign as World No 1 lasted a fortnight as Justin Thomas regained the crown more than two years after his own brief maiden stint at the summit.

Thomas put on a short game masterclass at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational for his 13th PGA Tour win and second WGC title. He becomes the third youngest player to reach 13 PGA Tour wins. (I don’t need to tell you the other two.) 

Thomas didn’t need reminding he was three up with three to play at last month’s Workday Charity Open only for Collin Morikawa to catch him and ultimately beat him in an incredible play-off. “I’m going to be mad about that for the rest of my life,” he said after his win in Memphis, before admitting it was ultimately what spurred him on.

And it was exquisite touches like this that saw him over the line at TPC Southwind…

Brooks Koepka pushed Thomas all the way but ultimately two sixes in the final three holes meant he fell back into a tie for 2nd with Phil Mickelson, Daniel Berger, and England’s Tom Lewis – who was 14 shots off the lead through 36 holes. 

Despite the finish, this will feel like a win for defending champion Brooks Koepka. And no, not because of that brilliant jab at Bryson DeChambeau during the second round.

This is a player who has been woefully out of form, remember – his record in 2020 reads MC-WD-T43-MC-T47-T32-7-MC-T62-MC – and, despite the slumped shoulders as he found the water at 18, he will be pumped as he bids for a third successive PGA Championship next weekend.

Let’s not forget his own coach wrote him off for the three-peat at Harding Park. “If I was a racehorse trainer, I’d say he had absolutely no chance!” joked Pete Cowen.

Brooks rarely needs more than one poke to get fired up.

Remember the name

Sam Horsfield has long been known as Ian Poulter’s protege. Now he’s Ian Poulter’s protege who is also a European Tour winner.

And it was an entertaining finish at the Hero English Open at Forest of Arden – the first since 2002 – after Thomas Detry missed a three-footer at the 18th and the bogey dropped him back to 17-under. 

Two holes back, Horsfield ripped an incredible shot from the fairway on the par-5 17th to set up a two-putt birdie to move to 18-under. He held his nerve on the par-3 finisher to win his first title.

It wasn’t our favourite moment of the week at the 17th though. That belongs to Joel Sjoholm, whose wayward second flew into the lake only to find a tiny island smack in the middle.

It’s not out of bounds, so on the boat he got and provided one of the more entertaining moments of the week. 

Kang in control as LPGA returns

Great to see the LPGA Tour back at the DriveOn Championship and it was a fourth win for Danielle Kang.

A final-day 70 was enough for a one-shot win over Celin Boutier.

England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff finished 5th at 2-under, one ahead of Gemma Dryburgh who is back in the US fresh off her Rose Ladies Series success.

Is Stenson considering PGL move? 

The Premier Golf League – remember that? – is back in the news after the Guardian reported a number of players had been approached by the breakaway tour.

The players noted to have received a formal offer letter include Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, and Rickie Fowler.

And it was Stenson who caused the most intrigue when asked about it ahead of the WGC in Memphis.

“We’ve seen some of the things in the press and I know a little bit what’s going on behind the scenes,” Stenson said ahead of his first start since golf’s resumption. “I’m following it closely, like a lot of other people.” 

“We’ll see what happens in the future.”

And did he receive the letter? “Well,” the Swede said with a smile.

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Alex Perry

Alex Perry

Alex has been the editor of National Club Golfer since 2017. A Devonian who enjoys wittering on about his south west roots, Alex moved north to join NCG after more than a decade in London, the last five of which were with ESPN. Away from golf, Alex follows Torquay United and spends too much time playing his PlayStation or his guitar and not enough time practising his short game.

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