Thomas wins in Memphis; Kang takes LPGA Tour return in Ohio

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Justin Thomas won the FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday to take the No. 1 spot in the world for the first time since June 2018.

Thomas dueled defending champion Brooks Koepka down the final holes, sealing the World Golf Championship victory on the par-5 16th. Thomas took the lead for good with his second straight birdie, while Koepka bogeyed the hole.

Koepka pulled within a stroke with a 39-footer for birdie on No. 17. But Koepka put his tee shot into the water along the 18th fairway on his way to double bogey, allowing Thomas to finish up an easy par putt for what wound up a three-stroke victory.

Thomas closed with a 5-under 66 to finish at 13-under 267 and take the $10.5 million winner’s check for his 13th PGA Tour title. At 27, he became the third-youngest player since 1960 to reach 13 PGA Tour wins, trailing only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

This was the fifth time Thomas rallied to win, and he matched his biggest comeback after starting the day four strokes back of third-round leader Brendon Todd. Thomas has three wins this season, two since the start of the year.

The last time Thomas was No. 1, he spent four weeks at the top of the ranking. He will supplant Jon Rahm, who became No. 1 after winning at Memorial two weeks ago.

Koepka will go to TPC Harding Park in San Francisco looking to defend his PGA championship title. He finished with a 69 and tied for second with Phil Mickelson (67), Daniel Berger (65) and Tom Lewis (66).

Thomas had Jim “Bones” Mackay on his bag, playing in the same group with Mickelson for the first time since Mickelson split with his longtime caddie. Mackay was a late fill-in for Thomas’ usual caddie, Jimmy Johnson.

LPGA TOUR

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Danielle Kang played the brand of steady golf that wins on tough golf courses, closing with a 2-under 70 at Inverness Club and winning the LPGA Drive On Championship in the first LPGA Tour event in more than five months.

Kang and Celine Boutier of France turned the final hour into a terrific duel, and they were tied when Kang made her lone bogey on the par-5 13th with a poor chip from the thick collar.

It was Boutier who blinked last. She missed a short par putt on the 15th hole to fall one shot behind, and then stuffed her approach to 4 feet below the hole on the 18th. Instead of a playoff, however, Boutier made a tentative stroke on a tricky putt and the ball caught the left edge of the cup and spun away.

Kang, the No. 4 player in the women’s world ranking, won for the fourth time in her career. It was her first LPGA competitoin since Jan. 23 in Florida. She did not go to Australia, and then the COVID-19 pandemic halted play on the Asian swing and then on through the summer.

Boutier, who won the Women’s Texas Open during her time off, made an 8-foot birdie putt on the 14th to tie Kang before she started to slip. Boutier closed with a 71.

Inverness hosted the one-time event, and both contenders are likely to be back next summer when the storied club hosts the Solheim Cup. The LPGA Tour stays in northeast Ohio next week for the Marathon Classic.

Kang finished at 7-under 209.

Minjee Lee of Australia shot a 70 to finished third, three shots behind.

BARRACUDA CHAMPIONSHIP

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) — Richy Werenski holed a flop shot from the fairway on the par-4 18th for a five-point eagle and birdied the last for a one-point victory over Troy Merritt in the Barracuda Championship.

Werenski won for the first time on the PGA Tour, scoring 13 points in the final round on Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Course — the first-time venue after 21 years at Montreux Golf and Country Club. The 28-year-old former Georgia Tech player won the event three years after losing to Chris Stroud on the second hole of a playoff.

The fifth straight first-time winner in the tour’s lone modified Stableford scoring event, Werenski earned a spot next week in the PGA Championship in San Francisco. He and Merritt, also in the field next week at TPC Harding Park, secured spots in the U.S. Open in September at Winged Foot.

Werenski made a 15-footer on the par-4 18th. He finished with 39 points, with players getting eight points for albatross, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.

Merritt failed to convert the 54-hole lead into a victory for the second straight year. Last year at Montreux, Collin Morikawa rallied to beat Merritt. On Sunday, Merritt parred the final 10 holes — leaving a 30-footer short on 18.

Matthias Schwab and Fabian Gomez tied for third with 37 points. Playing on a sponsor exemption, Schwab needed to finish in a two-way tie for second or better to earn special temporary membership on the tour.

PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS

GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) — Jim Furyk turned 50 when golf was shut down and made the most of it when the PGA Tour Champions returned, closing with a 4-under 68 to win the Ally Challenge when Brett Quigley bogeyed his last two holes.

Furyk became the first player since Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2014 to win in his start on the 50-and-older circuit.

His victory came at a familiar place. Warwick Hills was one of his favorite stops on the PGA Tour when it hosted the Buick Open until a decade ago. Furyk won there in 2003 and was a runner-up two other times. It was his first victory since the RBC Heritage in 2015.

Furyk, a former U.S. Open champion with 17 titles on the PGA Tour, was hardly out of competitive shape. He played five times on the PGA Tour over the last two months, making three cuts.

Quigley birdied the par-5 16th to tie for the lead, only to catch the left lip on a par putt on the 17th to give Furyk control. He dropped another shot on the 18th for a 1-under 71 and tied for second with two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, who closed with a 66.

Furyk finished at 14-under 202, and now heads to San Francisco for the PGA Championship. He earned a spot by remaining among the top 100 in the world.

EUROPEAN TOUR

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Sam Horsfield won the Hero Open for his first European Tour title, holding off Thomas Detry by a stroke at Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel and Country Club.

Horsfield closed with a 4-under 68 for an 18-under 270 total. The 23-year-old Englishman birdied the 17th hole to take the lead and finished with a par.

Detry, from Belgium, shot a 66.

Alexander Bjork (69), Chris Paisley (70) and Oliver Farr (71) tied for third at 14 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, the 56-year-old Spanish star making his record 707th European Tour appearance, shot a 72 to tie for 34th at 7 under.

KORN FERRY TOUR

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Seth Reeves overcame an eight-stroke deficit to win the Pinnacle Bank Championship for his first Korn Ferry Tour title, making a late eagle and birdie in a one-stroke victory over five players.

Reeves closed with a 7-under 64 to finish at 11-under 273 at The Club at Indian Creek. He eagled the par-5 15th and birdied the par-4 18th, finishing more than two hours before the final group.

The 29-year-old former Georgia Tech player earned $108,000 and jumped from 135th to 18th in the season points race for PGA Tour cards.

Third-round leader Ryan Ruffels bogeyed the 16th and 17th in a 73 to drop into a tie for second with Taylor Pendrith (66), Nick Voke (67), Carl Yuan (68) and Tyson Alexander (69). Pendrith, from Canada, had his fourth consecutive top-three finish. He’s third in the standings.

OTHER TOURNAMENTS

Pierceson Coody won the 118th Western Amateur on Sunday at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana, beating Denmark’s Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen 2 and 1. The 20-year-old Coody, the grandson of 1971 Masters champion Charles Coody, is a a junior at Texas. He’s the seventh Longhorn to win the George R. Thorne Trophy. … Hae Ran Ryu successfully defended her Jeju Samdasoo Masters title on the Korean LPGA, closing with a 7-under 65 for a three-stroke victory over Jeongeun Lee6. Ryu finished at 23-under 265 at Saint Four Golf & Resort on Jeju Island.

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