Justin Thomas thanks Mickelson's ex caddy

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Justin Thomas thanks Mickelson's ex caddy

A few words of encouragement from his caddy made the difference for Justin Thomas to get his second major title after staging an incredible comeback and winning the PGA Championship in the playoff. The American was seven shots away at the start of the final round at Southern Hills (Tulsa, Oklahoma), but he worked his way up the leaderboard before edging out compatriot Will Zalatoris in a three-hole playoff and seeing the Chilean Mito Pereira, one hole away from embracing glory, collapsed on the final hole becoming the first golfer since 2006 in a 'great' who wasted a lead shot on the 18th -Phil Mickelson at the Winged Foot USA Open- to finish losing the tournament.

Justin Thomas, caddy

Thomas, who also won the PGA in 2017, explained that Jim 'Bones' Mackay - curiously a former caddy for many of 'Lefty' although he couldn't win with him last year because they had already parted ways - had put him back on the path of victory after signing a frustrating 74 in the third round on Saturday.

"I have every confidence in saying that I wouldn't be standing here if he hadn't given me that ... it wasn't necessarily a speech, it was a talk, if you will," Thomas said. "I felt like he had played lousy.

And he was like, 'Man, you need to stop being so hard on yourself. You're in 'ointment' every week we play." The 15-time PGA Tour winner has had Mackay, caddy for Phil Mickelson - PGA champion, oldest in history, in 2021 and absent this year in Tulsa - for 25 years, carrying his bag of clubs since September and arrived with six top-10 in 2022 at the Southern Hills Country Club.

Thomas told reporters that he was able to tune in and avoid looking at the scoreboard on Sunday. "You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to be hard on yourself. Let things happen, and everything will go in the right direction.

So stay positive so that good things can happen," Justin said. "So it's not often that after turning in a four-over-par card on Saturday from a major that I walk away in as high a spirit as I am right now," he added.

Thomas embraced the Wanamaker Trophy and was showered with congratulations by thousands of fans surrounding the 18th green as the sun set in Southern Hills after Mito Pereira had his big chance to change the history of his career.

The South American's shot from the tee many minutes before ended in the water on the 18th hole and this mistake 'stole' his glory, the most unexpected of the Grand Slams and the winner's purse of 2.7 million dollars.

Thomas, who started 7 shots down on the final day, came into that 18th hole 5 under overall and one shot off the lead. Thomas and Will Zalatoris watched Pereira fall apart and force a playoff, only for Thomas to match the greatest comeback in PGA Championship history, set by John Mahaffey in 1978 at Oakmont, where he also came from seven shots before winning a playoff.

Tom Watson (he is the only 'major' missing from Kansas after winning two Masters, one US Open and five British Open in his brilliant career) and Jerry Pate. Thomas's seven-shot comeback to Pereira is the most important in a Grand Slam since the 1999 British Open won by Paul Lawrie after the collapse of Frenchman Jean Van de Velde.

Thomas ended a 14-month winless streak (since The Players Championship in 2021). He also gave Southern Hills another notable major champion: Of the previous seven, six are in the Hall of Fame. Thomas arrived in Tulsa acknowledging that he was not having the best days of his game and swing, but with his father's coach Mike Thomas they managed to hit the key during the week and Justin lifted the second big of his career.

Thomas now has nine consecutive years winning at least one tournament. He has not missed the appointment with the victory since 2014 and there are already 16 valid victories for the world ranking. In four of those nine years he won more than once and is now 5th in the world ranking.

His second major came when he least expected it. None of the six players who preceded him had ever won a 'big one' Thomas knew it. It was the longest title drought since his first PGA Tour win. He was also aware of it. "I remember how hard it is to win now, so I knew I was going to be nervous and I knew they would feel exactly the same way. You just don't know what's going to happen," he concluded.