For a sport obsessive about its personal historical past, golf can get fixated on the long run in a rush.
No sooner does a participant win a significant than golf analysts and followers begin speculating about their subsequent one. And if that “next one” takes awhile to return – or by no means comes in any respect – the whispers flip to murmurs, the murmurs to judgments.
The majors are golf’s unassailable tiers of validation. It doesn’t matter what number of weekly tour occasions Rickie Fowler or Lee Westwood or Colin Montgomerie win; in the event that they don’t have majors, they’re not within the sport’s interior circle. It’s a shiny, shining dividing line.
Climb a degree up from there, and also you’re in single-major territory. The PGA Championship has a little bit of a repute for producing these one-hit wonders, gamers who had the match of their lives at precisely the best second. In simply the final 15 years, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Keegan Bradley and Y.E. Yang have captured a PGA Championship … and nothing else.
Now off that record: Justin Thomas, who nabbed his second main Sunday night time in one of the vital exceptional comebacks in golf historical past. After 5 lengthy years, after 21 “is this the week?” pre-tournament press conferences, Thomas is a one-major winner no extra.
Granted, there’s zero disgrace in proudly owning a single main victory. Beats the hell out of being a zero-major winner. But once you’re a participant of Thomas’ caliber, once you’re persistently successful elsewhere on Tour and dominating Ryder and Presidents Cups, properly … extra is anticipated of you.
“It’s a lot harder to get the second than I thought it would be, internally. Not as much pressure externally,” Thomas conceded earlier than the match started. “Obviously when you win one, to get to where you want to go, you have to win the next one, and when you get on a little bit of a drought, it can be frustrating.”
The greatest main gamers of this era bunched their victories. Rory McIlroy gained 4 over the course of three-plus years. Jordan Spieth gained three over two-plus years, and Brooks Koepka gained 4 over roughly the identical span.
And then in fact there’s Thomas’ greatest pal Tiger Woods, who threw off the size for generations by successful so many, so quick. Woods did take greater than two years to win his second … however then gained his third, fourth and fifth inside one other yr.
For Thomas, the drought hit practically 5 years. In that point, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler, Shane Lowry and Patrick Reed gained their first; Collin Morikawa gained two. Also in that point, Thomas managed solely 4 top-10 finishes in majors whereas selecting up 9 PGA Tour victories.
“A lot of great players with unbelievable Hall of Fame-like careers, with multiple major winners have not won one until they are 30 or 35,” Thomas mentioned earlier than the match. “You never know, I could win one, two, three, four majors in a year. I just have to be patient and hope it happens as soon, rather than later.”
Well, it occurred actually as quickly because it presumably may. And as Thomas famous himself afterward, these years of scar tissue helped him catch as much as, and get previous, a number of gamers who nonetheless haven’t but gained their first PGA Tour occasion.
“I played that back nine beautifully,” Thomas mentioned, a pointy distinction to the debacles of Mito Pereira, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Cameron Young. “The holes I didn’t make birdie or had birdie putts I had really good looks, and I hit great putts that just didn’t go in, and the holes I missed the green I was able to salvage a par, which is what you have to do to win a major.”
The total afternoon was a masterpiece of willpower and tenacity. Thomas started the day seven strokes again and fell as many as eight behind Pereira earlier than making his cost. Not even Woods got here again from that far right down to win one among these.
“I kept telling myself, I’ve been here before,” he mentioned. “Although it’s been five years, it’s somewhere down in there.” And now, like Thomas, it’s again.
Now, when will he get No. 3?
Jay Busbee is a author for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at email@example.com.