Justin Thomas returns to world No 1 after WGC win in Memphis

American rides luck to land FedEx St Jude Invitational for second time

Justin Thomas shows off the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational trophy after claiming his second win in the event. Picture: Getty Images
Justin Thomas shows off the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational trophy after claiming his second win in the event. Picture: Getty Images

Justin Thomas returned to world No 1 after riding his luck down the stretch to win the WGC FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis.

The 27-year-old, who started the day four shots off the lead, signed off with a five-under 65 at TPC Southwind to finish on 13-under-par.

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He won by three shots from three fellow Americans, Daniel Berger, Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, as well as Englishman Tom Lewis.

It was the second time that Thomas had won the event, taking his tally of PGA Tour titles to 13.

He's the third-youngest player to achieve that feat after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

The victory also moved Thomas to No 1 in the world for the second time in his career, having also topped the rankings in June, 2018.

"It was a hard-fought day, but it meant a lot I just felt like how we did it, being four behind to start the day," he said. "I haven't exactly played well coming from behind in the past and I feel like I learned a lot from that."

The win came just three weeks after Thomas had blown a three-shot lead over the closing few holes before losing to Collin Morikawa in a play-off in the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village.

"I did obviously a very poor job," he said of that, "but because of that I felt a lot more calm and stayed more in the moment today."

A posse of players were tied for the lead before Thomas edged in front with a fortunate birdie at the 15th, where his tee shot was heading for the water before hitting a cart path and jumped to safety.

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He also birdied the next, played a lovely low shot under some low-hanging branches to come up just short at the 17th then produced a lovely up and down to save par at the last after a wild tee shot.

Koepka rolled in a monster birdie putt at the 17th to move within a shot of Thomas only for the 2013 Scottish Challenge winner to find water with his tee shot at the last, costing him a double-bogey 6.

"I got extremely lucky there on 15 and again on 16, but took advantage of it and that's the kind of stuff that happens when you win," he admitted.

Thomas had Jim "Bones" Mackay on his bag after his regular caddie, Jimmy Johnson, had to take the week off to undergo medical tests.

"He did great," said Thomas of Mackay, who, ironically, found himself in the same group on the last day as his old boss, Mickelson.

"He did what a lot of great caddies do and they let the player do it. There's a reason why they're the best and he did an unbelievable job this week, especially for being in that situation, which we had never been in that together."

Thomas will now turn his attention to trying to win this week's US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, having already landed that title in 2017.

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"Right now I'm obviously very happy and elated that we got it done today, but I need to work on some things and get ready for the PGA next week and try to win another major," he said.

Rory McIlroy closed with a 67 to finish in a tie for 47th on one-under, two shots ahead of Jon Rahm as the Spaniard's reign as world No 1 proved short-lived.

On his pro debut on US soil, Bob MacIntyre finished in a tie for 59th, closing with a 70 for a three-over total.

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