Jan 8 (Reuters) – Justin Thomas recovered from a late double-bogey and held off a last-day challenge by Japan’s in-form Hideki Matsuyama to clinch his third PGA Tour victory, by three shots at the SBS Tournament of Champions in Hawaii on Sunday.
The long-hitting American had been a commanding five strokes in front with five holes to play at the Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui before his lead was stunningly cut to just one after 15 holes.
Thomas then benefited from a two-shot swing at the par-four 17th, where he sank a three-footer for birdie after Matsuyama had three-putted for bogey, and also birdied the last to close with a four-under 69 in the PGA Tour’s opening event of the year.
The 23-year-old from Kentucky, whose previous two victories on the circuit had both come at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, finished with a 22-under total of 270 in the elite 32-man, winners-only field.
Matsuyama, who had triumphed four times in his previous five starts worldwide, placed second after closing with a 70.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St. Augustine, Florida; Editing by Andrew Both)