PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.
Justin Thomas was down to his last chance when he delivered his most clutch shot of the final round in the Honda Classic.
Turns out he wasn’t finished.
Thomas nearly holed a gap wedge on the par-5 18th hole for a birdie to force a playoff with Luke List. Moments later, he hit 5-wood over the water, urged it to keep going and lost it momentarily in the darkening sky over PGA National.
“All I was looking at was the water to see if it splashed,” Thomas said. “And it didn’t. So I figured I was in the bunker, and then people started clapping and I could kind of see some little white dot on the green.”
That set up a two-putt birdie that made him a winner when List, who hit his own bold shot in regulation to the 18th to set up birdie, could only manage par in the playoff.
Thomas closed with a 2-under 68 and won for the second time this season. He also won in a playoff at the CJ Cup in South Korea last fall. With eight career victories, including seven in his last 31 starts on the PGA Tour, he moved to No. 3 in the world. He is one spot ahead of longtime friend Jordan Spieth for the first time, which was of little significance to Thomas.
“Not really,” he said. “Because there’s still two more spots that I want to climb.’
List, going for his first PGA Tour victory, shot 32 on the back nine and closed with a 69. His only regret was a tee shot wide right in the playoff that landed amid palm trees and left him little options. He went left against the bleachers, and hit a superb approach to about 25 feet and two-putted for par.
“Obviously, it hurts right now,” List said. “But I think that when I look back on it, I’ll be proud of the way I hung in there.”
Alex Noren (67) finished third. He was tied for the lead when he went for the green on the 18th, only for the ball to hit hung up on the side of the collar of a bunker, leaving him a tough chip. He missed a birdie chance from 20 feet.
Tiger Woods was briefly within three shots of the lead on the front nine. He closed with a 70 and finished 12th.
The 5-wood turned out to be the winner for Thomas. The wedge made it possible.
Thomas missed the 18th fairway in regulation and had no choice but to lay up. List followed with his 4-iron to 35 feet.