Tiger Woods is already ahead of schedule in his recovery from his life-threatening car crash, according to new US PGA champion Justin Thomas.
Thomas – who defeated Will Zalatoris in a play-off to claim his second PGA title in five years at Southern Hills – feels Woods has performed a minor miracle to make the cut at the past two majors.
He finished 47th at the US Masters last month and carded opening rounds of 74 and a 69 to make the weekend in Tulsa, but the 15-time major winner was clearly in some pain when he opted to withdraw on Saturday night after slumping to a 79 in the third round.
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It was his third worst round in a major after his 81 in the third round of the 2002 Open Championship around a stormy Muirfield and an 80 in the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay amid ongoing back problems.
There are concerns over his physical condition ahead of the US Open at Brookline (16-19 June) and the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews (14-17 July), but close friend Thomas feels he is heading in the right direction 15 months after his golden career looked over.
"I wouldn't say how tough it was to see him struggle," said Thomas.
"He made the cut in his second major in a row, what, a year and a half after being in a gruesome car accident, broken leg? I don't think you guys understand how unbelievable that is.
He's a freak of nature. It's mind-blowing the things that he can do with his mind.
"I didn't play during his prime, but from the times I've been out here and him winning the Masters in '19 and winning the Tour Championship, him making the cut these last two tournaments for how – some of the conditions he was in last year, it's absurd. Like beyond absurd.
"I talked to him a little last night and asked how he was feeling, and he just said he was feeling terrible because my name kept dropping on the leaderboard.
"So I was like: 'Thanks, good to talk to you too, I'll talk to you later'."
Justin Thomas clasps the Wanamaker Trophy at Southern Hills.
Image credit: Eurosport
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Thomas joins Woods as a multiple PGA champion after Woods claimed the Wanamaker Trophy for a fourth time the last time the event was staged by Southern Hills in 2007.
Dave Stockton (1970), Raymond Floyd (1982) and Nick Price (1994) are the other men to lift the PGA at the onerous Oklahoma circuit.
Thomas closed with a 67 on his way to matching John Mahaffey's tournament record recovery on the final day.
Mahaffey won the 1978 US PGA title at Oakmont from seven strokes behind in a play-off with Tom Watson and Jerry Pate.
"I think now I only have like 150 other things to do that he's (Woods) done to where he can stop giving me grief," said Thomas. "So I guess it's just a stepping stone.
"I mean, the list of champions at this place I think kind of speaks for itself.
"When you get good golf courses like this, you don't – you hate to say a fluke win, whatever, but it seems like you have to know your way around. You just have to play golf and you have to execute.
"I think being on the list of champions at this golf course is very, very special because all those others have been able to do that, and it's definitely nice doing it after he did it in '07."
104th US PGA Championship leaderboard
- -5 J Thomas (US)*
- -5 W Zalatoris (US)
- -4 M Pereira (Chi)
- -3 T Fleetwood (Eng)
- -3 M Fitzpatrick (Eng)
- -3 C Kirk (US)
- -2 R McIlroy (NIR)
*Thomas won three-hole play-off
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