Thomas holds his nerve to claim play-off win
PGA champion Justin Thomas held his nerve to claim his eighth PGA Tour at the first extra play hole in Palm Beach, Florida.
Thomas saw off the challenge of fellow American Luke List to claim The Honda Classic, a deserved reward for his consistent form in recent weeks. Last season’s FedEx Cup winner - who has now won seven times in 31 Tour starts - certainly doesn’t have much fear when it comes to the pressure moments. At the last hole he almost holed his third shot from 114 yards, the shot of the day, which lead to a closing birdie and a playoff.
He said: “I’m still learning every round and every tournament that I play. It was pretty nerve wracking and I’m just very excited to get the job done.”
The European Tour’s Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood enjoyed a strong week in the Sunshine State, finishing two shots outside the play-off. While Swede Alex Noren will regret a second round 75 as his seven-under par 273 left him one shot shy of joining Thomas and List in the playoff. He posted a final round 67, after starting the week with a 66.
Woods claims he ‘made big leap’ in Florida
Tiger Woods enjoyed the best performance of his latest comeback as he finished The Honda Classic on even par - eight back from Thomas in 12th place. It was Tiger's best finish at an official PGA Tour event since the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
Dressed his final trademark final round red and watched by huge galleries, Woods twice got within four shots of the lead but that famous charge never quite ignited. The Bear Trap (holes 15 -17) curtailed his charge over most of the four rounds. He was eight over for the week on holes 15 to 18.
“The body feels good and I just need to keep it feeling good,” said Woods, who hasn’t decided on his next tournament as he aims to return to the Masters in April. “I’ll get back to the gym and keep it strong. I felt like I made a big leap this week and I really hit it well.”
Popular Pepperell hopes maiden Tour win is first of many
Eddie Pepperell survived a back nine charge from Oliver Fisher to claim his maiden European Tour in Doha. After four top five finishes last year, he won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in his 129th start on the Tour. Not bad considering he lost his card in 2016.
Pepperell and Fisher started the final round tied for the lead but the latter had a difficult front nine, dropping three shots before the turn. However, he roared back down the stretch with a flurry of five birdies and would have made a play-off had he drained a three yard putt on the final green.
“I was in a great place mentally and kept telling myself ‘I’m going to win this’ but Oli certainly made life more interesting,” said Pepperell, who chronicles life on Tour on his highly-entertaining blog. “I guess the number one emotion is relief, as is always the case with a win - although I haven't had many. I’ve always felt and believed I will win out here but it hadn’t happened and this will give me confidence for the future" he added.
Friends and family watching back home - including brother Joe, the PGA professional at Oxford Golf Club - certainly enjoyed the winning moment too, posting a video of his final putt and their celebrations on Twitter.
All eyes shift towards Mexico
Attentions turn to this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship, with world number one Dustin Johnson defending his title. Justin Rose, who chased down Johnson to win the WGC HSBC Champions last year, is back in action after a four-week break but Jason Day and Rory McIlroy will both be absent from the still high-quality 64-strong field. Indian rising star Shubhankar Sharma, twice a European Tour winner this season, makes his debut in a WGC event.