MEDINAH, Ill. — Staked to a six-shot lead, Justin Thomas spent more time Sunday worrying about what could go wrong than ending 12 months without winning.
And right when it started to go wrong, Thomas delivered his biggest shots in the BMW Championship.
In a span of three holes around the turn at Medinah, his six-shot lead shrunk to two. Thomas answered with two clutch wedge shots and two big putts and sailed to a 4-under 68 to secure a three-shot victory over Patrick Cantlay, who gave him a battle to the end with a 65.
“Patrick played unbelievably, put a lot of heat on me,” Thomas said. “In the end, it could have been good for me. It kept me focused, kept my head down. … I was really nervous going into today. I remembered that it’s really hard to win a golf tournament, and I’m glad that I was able to do so.”
The timing was ideal.
His first victory since the World Golf Championship at Firestone last year moved him to the top of the FedEx Cup going into the Tour Championship, where he will start the tournament at 10 under par with a two-shot lead under the new scoring format as the final 30 players chase a $15 million first prize.
“I can certainly say I never slept on a Wednesday lead,” Thomas said.
Cantlay, who made four straight birdies around the turn, secured the No. 2 position and will start at 8 under. Brooks Koepka will be 7 under, a staggered start all the way down to even par for the final five players.
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.
“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.
Monday qualifier claims Tour Champions event: ENDICOTT, N.Y. — Doug Barron became the 13th Monday qualifier to win a PGA Tour Champions event, holing two 15-foot birdie putts after a rain delay to beat Fred Couples by two strokes in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Making his second senior start after turning 50 last month, Barron closed with a 6-under 66 at En Joie Golf Club to finish the wire-to-wire victory at 17-under 199. With Couples in the clubhouse after a 63, Barron returned from the rain delay to hole the first 15-footer on the par-4 15th to break a tie for the lead, then doubled the advantage with the second one on the par-3 17th.
Scheffler opens Korn Ferry Tour Finals with victory: COLUMBUS, Ohio — Scottie Scheffler won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, closing with a 4-under 67 for a two-stroke victory in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals opener. Scheffler finished at 12-under 272 on Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course. Brendon Todd (67), Beau Hossler (68) and Ben Taylor (68) tied for second.
Ogletree rallies for U.S. Amateur title: PINEHURST, N.C. — Andy Ogletree won the U.S. Amateur, 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 he won four of the final seven holes on the No. 2 course to claim the championship matchup of 21-year-old college seniors. Ogletree became the third Georgia Tech player to win the U.S. Amateur, joining Matt Kuchar and Bobby Jones.
Pieters edges out win at Czech Masters: VYSOKY UJEZD, Czech Republic — Belgium’s Thomas Pieters became the first two-time winner in Czech Masters history, shooting a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Adri Arnaus of Spain. Pieters finished at 19-under 269 for his fourth European Tour victory.