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PGA Championship 2022: Justin Thomas says he knew rivals were 'nervous' before claiming second major title

Justin Thomas earned his second major title as he came from seven shots back at the start of the final round to win the 2022 PGA Championship; several players who started the day ahead of Thomas wilted under pressure during a dramatic back nine at Southern Hills

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Justin Thomas says it's a special feeling to win his second major

PGA Championship 2022 champion Justin Thomas says he knew his rivals had to be "nervous" as he pulled off a stunning final-round comeback to claim his second major title.

Thomas equalled the biggest final-day comeback in the tournament's history as he overcame a seven-shot deficit at the start of Sunday to reach a play-off, in which he defeated fellow American Will Zalatoris.

Chile's Mito Pereira, having led by three shots on nine under at the start of the round, held a one-shot lead on the 18th tee, but found the hazard before making a double-bogey that saw him miss out on the play-off.

Cameron Young, who momentarily shared the lead with Pereira during a dramatic back nine, fell away after making a double-bogey at the 16th, while England's Matthew Fitzpatrick was unable to sustain his challenge after a stunning chip-in birdie at the 15th.

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The best of the action from the final round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills

"I didn't look at the leaderboard today," Thomas told Sky Sports. "I could kind of feel through the energy in the crowd that I had a chance.

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Thomas wins his second PGA Championship after beating Will Zalatoris in a three-hole play-off

"I know that all the players that were ahead of me are great players, but haven't won a major, and it's a big moment.

"I mean, I know I'm very nervous, so I know that they're very nervous and I just tried to tell myself that all I can do is control what I can, and if it's good enough, great, if not then so be it."

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After reaching the play-off, Thomas produced a near-perfect three-hole display to see off Zalatoris, making birdies at the 13th and 17th before sealing victory with a tap-in par at the challenging 18th.

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Thomas produces a monster putt from distance on the 11th hole!

Thomas, who turned 29 in April, is just the sixth player in the last 80 years to claim 15 PGA Tour wins - including two major titles - before reaching the age of 30.

"It's very, very special," Thomas added. "Any time you win it's obviously great, but getting it done in different ways I think teaches a lot. It's a great learning opportunity. I fought so hard today. I was out of it and I was back in.

"This golf course is tough, winning a tournament is tough, winning a major is tough and I just tried to stay patient, and I felt, when I somehow got myself in that play-off, it was time to just go and get after it and get it done."

PGA Championship Golf

Zalatoris: I'll get a major soon

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Zalatoris believes it will not be long before he wins a major, after finishing second at the PGA Championship

Despite coming up short in the play-off, Zalatoris remains confident he is trending towards a major title.

The 25-year-old has now finished in the top 10 on all five occasions he has made the cut at majors - twice at The Masters, twice at the PGA Championship and once at the US Open.

After making a bogey at the 16th, Zalatoris produced brilliant up-and-downs - for birdie at the 17th and par at the 18th - to force his way into the play-off.

"I'm proud of the way I fought," Zalatoris told Sky Sports. "JT went out and got it in the play-off.

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Zalatoris produced a remarkable up-and-down from the cart path to scramble an unlikely bogey during his final round

"I hit a great putt [in the play-off] on 17, we just under-read it. I fought like crazy today. I didn't have my best stuff yesterday, which obviously turns out to be the difference.

"But we're going to get one soon. I've been knocking on the door in these majors for a little while and one's going to come soon.

"I had total resolve today. Even though the entire day I felt like I was behind the eight-ball, I was around the lead but I never really had it until I made that par putt on 18.

"I knew I needed to keep fighting. I've come up one short and it stings, but we're going to get one soon."

Pereira: My final-day nerves were terrible

Pereira, who came into the tournament ranked 100 in the world, admitted nerves got the better of him as he shot a five-over-par final round.

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There was heartbreak for Mito Pereira after a disastrous double-bogey at the 18th ended his hopes of victory at Southern Hills

"Today I was really nervous," Pereira said after having to settle for tied-third. "I tried to handle it a little bit, but it's really tough. I thought I was going to win on 18, but it is what it is. We'll have another one [opportunity to win].

"I thought I was nervous the first day, then I thought I was nervous the second day, then I thought I was nervous on the third day, but the fourth day was terrible. I mean, this morning was tough.

"I just played it through, and actually had a one-shot lead on 18 and that was pretty good. Sad to hit it in the water. I mean, I wish I could do it again."

Fitzpatrick played alongside Pereira in the final group and kept his hopes alive of becoming the first English winner of the Wanamaker Trophy in 103 years when he chipped in for birdie at the 15th, only to bogey his penultimate hole and end the week in a share of fifth place.

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Matthew Fitzpatrick puts himself back in contention with a spectacular chip shot for the birdie to get back within two of the lead

"It's a tough one to take right now," Fitzpatrick said. "Just got to try to take the positives. The first three days I was immaculate. Everything I was doing was right.

"Maybe today wasn't quite as switched on. I made too many mistakes on the simple things. I didn't hit it in the fairway enough. There were just a few things today which I could have done better looking back."

Rory McIlroy's wait for a major title continues after finishing three strokes back in eighth place, with the former world No 1 declining to speak to waiting reporters after posting a two-under 68 on Sunday.

Rob Lee on 'fantastic Thomas, talented Pereira and McIlroy missed opportunity'

Sky Sports' Rob Lee on Sunday's PGA Championship finish:

"You know what, major championship tests are so difficult, you could see a guy like Mito Pereira, who was on a winning score and if he'd have shot level par would actually have won it easily in the end.

"It's difficult to win for the first time on the PGA Tour and then to have it be a major championship, it was a bit too much to ask for on this occasion.

"Justin Thomas was the class horse in the race in the end in what was a very exciting final round. For him to play the back nine at three under par with no mistakes, and then go three holes with Will Zalatoris and earn his second PGA Championship, fantastic for Justin Thomas.

"Even though he's been on our screens for a long time, he's still only 29.

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Sky Sports' Rob Lee says Thomas was a 'class above' the rest of the field as the American came back from a seven-shot deficit to win his second major at the PGA Championship

"Mito would have thought: 'If I play half decent today, I'm going to win'. That's pressure when you're not used to dealing with what's on the line.

"It's not so much that you've got to play a good round, of course that's important, but you sort of project: What will this mean for my career? What will it do for me in the next four-and-a-half hours? It's a huge thing to take on board.

"And it just proved for Mito to be too much on the day. But what he has done is teach himself, and he has the knowledge, that he's good enough to lead a major championship going into Sunday. That's what he takes forward, because he's a great talent.

"He's got all the bits and pieces you need, he just didn't have the final round he would have wanted."

Sky Sports' Lee on Rory McIlroy missed opportunity at the PGA Championship...

"I think it was [a missed opportunity]. To start off like he did, 65 on day one, looking good.

"Instead of being outside the major runners and riders, he's right in there after a great first day, and I'm thinking: 'Come on Rory, this is it', but it just didn't work out.

"He didn't play well every single round. He played well again yesterday (Sunday), and actually if you'd have told him after five holes: You make one more birdie from here, you're going to a play-off, I don't think he would have believed you.

"But second and eighth in the first two majors of the year, it's not terrible."

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