Thomas replaces Rose as No. 2

AFP
American Justin Thomas regained second place in the world rankings from Justin Rose of England yesterday after easing to a four-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational .
AFP
AFP

Justin Thomas poses with the Gary Player Cup after winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club South Course in Akron, Ohio, on Sunday.

American Justin Thomas regained second place in the world rankings from Justin Rose of England yesterday after easing to a four-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational over the weekend.

The 25-year-old will start the defense of his US PGA Championship title on Thursday in red-hot form after his fifth tournament win in the last 12 months.

Compatriot Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, though, after a thrilling charge on Sunday ultimately saw him finish tied for third in Akron, Ohio.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy moved back into the top five for the first time since September 2017, despite falling out of contention at Firestone with a disappointing final round.

In Akron, Thomas fired a 1-under-par 69 on Sunday to win by four strokes.

On a day when his nearest rivals were fading, overnight leader Thomas stayed steady at Firestone Country Club, producing two birdies and one bogey and finishing with a 15-under total of 265.

That left him four clear of fellow American Kyle Stanley, who carded a 2-under 68 for 269.

Johnson and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen shared third place on 270, both storming home with 6-under par 64s as those who began the day with higher hopes floundered.

“I’m glad I finally played well around here,” said Thomas, who claimed his first victory in an elite World Golf Championships event on a course where he hasn’t fared so well in the past.

The 25-year-old said he got “a little choked up” when he saw his grandparents in the crowd.

His grandfather, Paul, played in the 1960 Championship at Firestone.

“It’s really cool,” Thomas said. “They don’t get to come out very often any more. This is my first PGA Tour win with them here, so that’s pretty cool.”

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy and England’s Ian Poulter, who started the day sharing second three shots behind Thomas, both struggled.

McIlroy’s five bogeys included three on the trot at the eighth, ninth and 10th. His 3-over 73 left him tied for sixth on 272.

Poulter fired a 4-over 74 that included a double bogey and five bogeys and left him in a group on 273.

Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner at the Firestone club hosting the Bridgestone for the last time, carded his second straight 73 to finish with a share of 31st.

His last nine holes saw two double bogeys, three bogeys, three birdies and just one par.

“I was just trying to be as aggressive as possible and fire at everything,” Woods said. “It was either going to be 62 or 72 or something in the mid-70s.

“I was just going to be aggressive and see what happens,” Woods added.

The tournament’s final edition at Firestone offered little drama as no one got within two shots of Thomas.

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