A disappointing final round denied Russell Knox his fourth top 10 of the season on the PGA Tour as American Justin Thomas held off on-form Hideki Matsuyama to win the SBS Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Knox headed into the final round in Kapalua lying eighth, having improved gradually over the opening three days with efforts of 71, 69 and 68 to sit on 11-under-par in the 2016 winners’ event on the US circuit.
However, after undoing some of that good work when running up a triple-bogey 7 at the third, the Scottish No 1 had to settle for a closing 73, which dropped him nine spots into a share of 17th.
In fairness to Knox, he battled back bravely after that early setback, following it with three straight birdies in showing the dogged determination that has earned him a place in the world’s top 20.
After getting it to one-under for the round with a birdie at the 10th, he then dropped shots at both the 13th and 15th before signing off with a birdie at the last.
Overall, it was another decent performance from the Scot, who’d started the PGA Tour’s 2016-17 wraparound campaign by tying for 10th in Malaysia before finishing ninth in his defence of the WGC-HSBC Champions title in China then claiming third spot in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
Thomas, one of the rising stars in US golf, claimed his third PGA Tour title with a three-shot victory, closing with a 69 for a 22-under-par 270 total.
Matsuyama, bidding for a fourth success in six starts, turned up the heat on Thomas when he chipped in for an eagle-2 on the 14th before the leader then double-bogeyed the par-5 15th.
However, a birdie-birdie finish from Thomas saw the 23-year-old secure his second of the season, having also pipped Matsuyama in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
“I stumbled more than I wanted to,” admitted Thomas afterwards, “but it shows where my game is at. I stuck it out and got the win.”
Jordan Spieth closed with a bogeyfree 65 - the best round of the day - to surge up the leaderboard and take a share of third with Pat Perez and Ryan Moore on 16 under.
US Open champion Dustin Johnson was a shot further back while world No 1 Jason Day finished with an eagle to close on 13 under.
Scottish star Robert MacIntyre is on the mend after being forced to withdraw from last week’s Australian Master of the Amateurs Championship in Melbourne after two rounds due to illness.
“I was unwell for days leading up to event but played on,” said the Glencruitten player, winner of the 2015 Scottish Amateur and runner-up in last year’s Amateur Championship. “However, after the second round I was feeling really bad so went to see a doctor and he told me you that I couldn’t be outside in the heat.
“He said it would be very dangerous to play on, so I decided to withdraw and prepare for the rest of events I’m playing in here.”
Next up for MacIntyre is the Australian Amateur at Yarra Yarra & Peninsula Kingswood on 17-22 January before he then competes in the New South Wales Amateur at Terrey Hills and Killara from 30 January to 3 February.
“It was the first event I’d had to withdraw from during it,” he added. “But I did nothing for two days and I’m on the way up now.”
Four Scots are set to join world No 2 Rory McIlroy in the field for this week’s BMW SA Open at Glendower.
European Tour trio David Drysdale, Duncan Stewart and Scott Henry are being joined in the event by Kirkhill amateur Craig Ross.
The latter earned his place by winning the South African Amateur Championship last year and follows in the footsteps of two compatriots, Michael Stewart and Daniel Young, by teeing it up in this event through that particular achievement.