UA alum Thomas earns second major golf title after historic playoff


Courtesy of CBS Sports

Justin Thomas poses with the trophy after winning the PGA Championship on May 22 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Will Miller, Contributing Writer

After coming out on the right side of the PGA Championship’s first playoff since 2011, former Alabama national champion Justin Thomas completed his comeback and won the second major championship of his professional career.

While at Alabama, Thomas was recognized as 2012’s most outstanding collegiate golfer and was part of the 2013 national title team. He took home the Wanamaker Trophy Sunday evening following a three-hole playoff against runner-up Will Zalatoris.

It was an improbable outcome, as Thomas entered Sunday seven strokes out from the lead. On the eighteenth hole, then-leader Mito Pereira hit his tee shot into the water to lead off a disastrous final stretch which took him out of the running for the title. Thomas had rallied and, when Pereira collapsed, he found himself tied with Zalatoris at 5-under.

Bring on the playoff.

Thomas and Zalatoris were neck and neck following the first playoff hole, a par 5 on the 13th, but Thomas birdied twice on the ensuing holes, taking a one-stroke lead on the second and cementing his victory with a short putt for birdie on the third.

For Zalatoris, who hails from San Francisco, Sunday’s final result marked his second runner-up finish in a major — the 2021 Masters is the other. His chances Sunday were badly compromised by Thomas’s tee shot on the second playoff hole, the par 4 17th, which landed on the green and was effectively the reason Thomas took the lead.

“That was a nice one,” said Thomas of the shot. “I like these 17th holes in the PGA championship.”

Thomas scored a 67 on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday and will receive a cool $2.7 million for his efforts.

“It was a bizarre day,” an emotional Thomas said during the trophy presentation. “I definitely crossed one off the list. I’ve never won a tournament shanking the ball on Sunday […] We just tried to play the golf course for what it is, and this place [Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club] is so tough.”

“I just couldn’t believe I found myself in a playoff.”

He also won the 2017 PGA Championship, though he didn’t need a playoff to do it. Including 2022, there have been 19 playoffs in the major’s history, and the gap between the eighteenth and nineteenth is tied for the longest in event history (1923-34).