Just like at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Bryson DeChambeau and Lee Westwood were once again paired in the final round this week at the PGA Tour’s flagship event in Florida.
But it was Justin Thomas who came away with the trophy.
The 27-year-old earned his 14th win on Tour, storming up the leaderboard over the weekend to win the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass’ Players Stadium Course in Ponte Vedra Beach. Thomas followed a Saturday 8-under 64 with a Sunday 68, holding off the likes of Westwood, DeChambeau and Brian Harman, who kept the pressure on all afternoon.
“I’m so happy to be the Players champion,” Thomas said. “It was one of the best rounds of my life, tee-to-green. I stayed patient. I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff happen on the back nine here and I was glad I was on the better side of it.”
Now THAT’S a reaction! pic.twitter.com/3ITCBxKJfH
— THE PLAYERS (@THEPLAYERSChamp) March 14, 2021
The only time Thomas lost his composure was during his post-round interview on NBC, when he was asked about winning his first tournament since the death of his grandfather, Paul, on Feb. 6.
“I wish I could talk to him,” Thomas said fighting back tears. “I don’t know, it’s a sign that he was watching.”
DeChambeau and Westwood began to falter early in the round, with each finding the water off the tee on the par-4 fourth, one with a top and the other a slice.
Thomas briefly took the lead on the back nine at 13 under after an eagle on the par-5 11th, but Westwood, the 54-hole leader, responded with a birdie on the par-4 14th to join him.
Thomas reclaimed the solo lead with a birdie on No. 16 and avoided the water surrounding the island green on No. 17, two-putting for par to avoid any damage to his scorecard. He did the same on No. 18 to earn his first win since August at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.