Justin Thomas had more stress than he needed Sunday before regaining control with four birdies on the back nine at Medinah to win the BMW Championship and claim the No. 1 seed going into the FedEx Cup finale.
Thomas watched a six-shot lead shrink to two in a span of three holes around the turn until he regained control with two great wedges, and two pivotal putts. One last birdie gave him a four-under-par 68 and a three-shot victory over Patrick Cantlay, who gave him a battle to the end with a 65.
“I was really nervous today. It’s hard to play with a lead,” Thomas said. “You don’t know how often things like this will happen, and it feels great.”
The victory, the first for Thomas since the World Golf Championship at Firestone last year, gives him a two-shot lead starting the Tour Championship next week as the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup chase the $15 million prize.
The field will have a staggered start based on their position in the FedEx Cup, meaning Thomas starts at 10-under par.
The top 30 who advanced includes Lucas Glover, who went bogey-double bogey late in his round until finishing with a par to wrap up his first trip to East Lake in 10 years.
It will not include Masters champion Tiger Woods, the defending champion.
Woods was a long shot going into the final round to crack the top 30, and he closed with a 72. East Lake was his first victory in five years, capping his return from four back surgeries, a special moment replaced some six months later by his Masters victory.
“It’s disappointing,” Woods said. “Last year culminated in a pretty special moment for me and would have been nice to go back there.”
Hideki Matsuyama took the 36-hole lead with a 63 until falling back with a 73. He responded with another 63 to finish alone in third, making him one of three players who moved into the top 30 to reach East Lake. The other was Jason Kokrak, but only after J.T. Poston made bogey on his final hole.
The U.S. team for the Presidents Cup didn’t change, with Bryson DeChambeau holding down the final spot. Tony Finau would have needed to finish alone in third. He closed with a 69 to finish fourth, unable to keep up with Matsuyama.
Nothing changed for the International team either, as Jason Day failed to earn one of the eight automatic spots. Both captains, Woods and Ernie Els, will have four picks on Nov. 5.
Ogletree is U.S. Amateur champion
Andy Ogletree won the U.S. Amateur title by rallying to beat John Augenstein 2 and 1. Ogletree was 4 down early in the morning round of the 36-hole final at Pinehurst’s renovated No. 4, but won four of the final seven holes on the No. 2 course to claim the championship matchup of 21-year-old college seniors.
The Mississippian became the third Georgia Tech player to win the U.S. Amateur, joining Matt Kuchar and Bobby Jones. He ended it on the 17th, sticking his tee shot on the par-three hole on the green and two-putting for par. Augenstein placed his tee shot on the left fringe and four-putted for a double bogey.
Augenstein, from Kentucky, was the first Vanderbilt player to reach the final since Luke List in 2004. At No. 38 in the world amateur ranking, he was the highest-ranked player to reach the semifinals and the only one in the top 100.
Pieters wins Czech Masters
Thomas Pieters shot a three-under 68 to become the first golfer to win the Czech Masters for the second time. The overnight leader by one stroke, Pieters took a three-shot lead after a birdie on the seventh only to bogey the eighth. He added a birdie and a bogey on the back nine to finish on 19-under 269 for his fourth European Tour victory, his first since the 2016 Made In Denmark.
He also won at the Albatross Golf Resort near Prague in 2015 for his maiden title.
Adria Arnaus of Spain birdied two of the last three holes to post a 68 and claim second place, one shot off the lead. Seven strokes off the pace after the third round, defending champion Andrea Pavan of Italy shot a seven-under 65 for a 16-under 272 to tie for third with Sam Horsfield of England who finished with a 68.