PGA Championship: Woods applauds Thomas, Pereira ‘ashamed’, Mickelson caddie’s major role

‘He has his opinion, I have mine’ – Tiger Woods on Phil Mickelson controversy

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The PGA Championship finished in dramatic fashion on Sunday night as Justin Thomas held his nerve to defeat Will Zalatoris in a play-off to win the tournament for a second time. Here is everything that happened overnight following Thomas’s thrilling victory at Southern Hills…

Woods congratulates Thomas

Tiger Woods hailed Justin Thomas for seizing the day after his close friend came back from the dead to win his second US PGA Championship. Thomas was eight shots off the lead at Southern Hills after eight holes of his final round but surged through to prevail in a play-off against Will Zalatoris.

It prompted Woods, who has described Thomas as the little brother he never had, to take to social media in praise of Thomas. “Big congrats to @JustinThomas34 ! He kept himself in this championship until the very end and once he got his shot he didn’t look back. Thanks to Tulsa and the @PGAChampionship for a great week,” tweeted Woods.

Thomas revealed he had spoken to Woods after his withdrawal on Saturday night. “I talked to him a little last night and asked how he was feeling and he just said he was feeling terrible because my name kept dropping on the leaderboard. So I was like: ‘Thanks, good to talk to you too, I’ll talk to you later.’

“I think now I only have 150 other things to do that he’s done to where he can stop giving me grief so I guess it’s just a stepping stone.”

Pereira blames stage fright

Chile’s Mito Pereira confessed to feeling “ashamed’ after blowing a three-stroke final round lead at Southern Hills.

Pereira blamed stage fright for his capitulation which culminated in a visit to the creek at the 72nd hole that led him to finally surrender it and miss out on the play-off. “I thought I was nervous the first day. Then I thought I was nervous the second day. Then I thought I was nervous on the third day but the fourth day was terrible,” said Pereira.

“I tried to handle it a little bit but it’s really tough. I was sad to hit it in the water. I wish I could do it again. I wasn’t thinking about the water, it’s weird that it went in. I guess you have so much pressure in your body that things happen.

“Walking down 18 I felt a little bit ashamed to be in that position but on the other side I’m just happy to be there. On Monday I just wanted to make the cut. I finished third in my first Major this year. I think I have to really just hold to that. For the next one I will be a little bit more prepared.”

The consolation was a move from No 100 to No 49 in the world rankings.

Fitzpatrick falls short 

Matt Fitzpatrick was left licking his wounds after a chastening experience playing in the final group at a Major for the first time. The Yorkshireman’s disappointing 73 saw him settle for a share of fifth place with Tommy Fleetwood.

“It’s tough obviously to take. I just didn’t hit very well. It wasn’t a good day. It’s disappointing knowing that you’re two shots outside of a play-off and you feel like you’ve got the game to make the play-off and go on to win.

“I shoot level par and I win it outright. It wasn’t the day that I wanted.”

However, Fitzpatrick will have positive memories to fall back on at the next Major with the US Open next month being staged at Brookline where he won the US Amateur.

Mickelson caddie’s pep talk

Phil Mickelson may have missed his US PGA Championship defence but his long-time caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay was in Tulsa – on Justin Thomas’s bag.

The English-born caddie, who hooked up full time with Thomas last September, kept his man cool under the pressure of a final round which consumed the frontrunners. “If I was ever going to caddy again, this was the time and without question this was the player,” said Mackay.

Thomas credited Mackay for returning him to the winners’ circle five years after he won the Wanamaker Trophy for the first time and revealed he had given him a crucial pep talk on Saturday night as he despaired of his chances of reeling back in the leaders.

“I’m fully confident in saying that I wouldn’t be standing here if he didn’t give me that talk,” said Thomas.

“He was just like: ‘Dude, you’ve got to stop being so hard on yourself. It’s a hard golf course, it’s a Major Championship. You don’t have to be perfect. Just don’t be hard on yourself. Just keep staying positive so that good stuff can happen.’ I left in an awesome frame of mind.”

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