Justin Thomas dedicates WCG-Bridgestone Invitational win to ailing Aussie Jarrod Lyle



SKY SPORT

Justin Thomas holds his nerve to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title by four shots at Firestone.

Justin Thomas tried valiantly to have Jarrod Lyle’s yellow bucket hats shipped to Ohio so the world’s best golfers could wear them during the WGG-Bridgestone Invitational.

Logistics prevented that, but new world No 2 Thomas reflected the players’ wide support when he dedicated his four-shot victory to Australia’s ailing former PGA Tour player on Sunday (Monday NZT).

Lyle last week ceased treatment and began palliative care amid a third battle with acute myeloid leukaemia.

“This win, and this week, was definitely for Jarrod,” Thomas said.

Justin Thomas poses with the Gary Player Cup trophy after holding his nerve to win the Bridgestone Invitational.

DAVID DERMER/AP

Justin Thomas poses with the Gary Player Cup trophy after holding his nerve to win the Bridgestone Invitational.

“I wanted that yellow hat and I asked [equipment manufacturer Titleist] if we could get some, but everything in stock was sent to Jarrod [in Australia], which is understandable.

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“But I was glad we could get the yellow ribbons to show some appreciation.”

Thomas carded one-under-par 69 at Firestone Country Club to reach 15 under and finished four shots ahead of Kyle Stanley (68), while world No 1 Dustin Johnson and Thorbjorn Olesen (both 64) tied for third at 10 under.

Adding to the emotion of 25-year-old Thomas’ victory was the joy of having his grandparents, Paul and Phyllis Thomas, in the gallery.

Paul was a career club professional and played at Firestone in the 1960 US PGA Championship, missing the 54-hole cut.

“I got a little choked up when I looked over and saw my grandpa and grandma,” Thomas said.

Justin Thomas Thomas carded a one-under-par 69 in the final round at Firestone to finish four shots clear.

DAVID DERMER/AP

Justin Thomas Thomas carded a one-under-par 69 in the final round at Firestone to finish four shots clear.

“This is my first PGA Tour win with him here and it’s really special.

“My grandpa is not emotional, but I hadn’t seen him smile or be that happy, maybe ever.”

Thomas’ ninth title on the US Tour, and second this year, earned him $US1.7 million (NZ$2.5 million) and moved him up one spot on the rankings to world No 2.

Thomas will take enormous confidence into his PGA Championship title defence this week as he seeks a second major title.

“To win on a championship golf course like [Firestone] and against a very tough field, it just felt great,” he said.

Australians Jason Day and Marc Leishman came within striking distance on the final day but crumbled on the back nine.

Justin Thomas dedicated his win to former PGA Tour player Jarrod Lyle, who is battling cancer for the third time.

GETTY IMAGES

Justin Thomas dedicated his win to former PGA Tour player Jarrod Lyle, who is battling cancer for the third time.

Former world No 1 Day pulled within two of Thomas when he rattled off three straight birdies starting at the 10th hole.

But back-to-back bogeys from the 13th preceded a double-bogey at the par-5 16th as Day signed for a 73 to share 10th at seven under, while Leishman (73) was a shot back in a tie for 14th.

Adam Scott’s 74 left the 2011 winner at four over and tied for 57th.


 – AAP



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