Justin Thomas held his nerve in glorious style to win a fraught play-off against Will Zalatoris in claiming a second US PGA title in five years at Southern Hills.
The 2017 champion began the day seven strokes behind overnight leader Mito Pereira on minus two, but a 67 saw him reach five under as the unheralded Chilean collapsed on the final hole to card a 75 and agonisingly miss the play-off by a stroke.
Pereira, 27, held a one-shot lead on the 72nd hole, but emptied his drive into the water in the creek before running up a closing double-bogey six with Thomas and fellow American Zalatoris safely in the clubhouse.
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It was a monumental blunder that opened the door for Thomas to make his move having started Sunday with a slim chance (officially just 1.2%) of victory in Tulsa.
The three-hole play-off saw the former world No 1 birdie the first two holes before a solid par on 18, boosted by a brave and booming drive, was enough to claim the season's second major and lift the Wanamaker Trophy.
Four birdies in the closing 10 holes in regulation play also ensured Thomas matched John Mahaffey's tournament record recovery on the final day after he won the 1978 US PGA title at Oakmont from seven strokes behind in a play-off with Tom Watson and Jerry Pate.
"It's very, very special. I'm pleased," said 29-year-old Thomas, who thanked his father Mike for helping him recover from a gloomy 74 on Saturday. "At this point any major is great; I don't care which one it is.
As Tom Brady always says, your favourite Super Bowl is your next one, and that's what my favourite major is. And at this moment, it's definitely this guy right here.
"I'm looking forward to talking to my grandma. I'm sure she was watching.
"I know somewhere up there, grandpa was definitely watching today and pulling for me. It's very, very cool to be able to share this moment with my family.
"I'm very fortunate right now that although there might be people ranked higher than me in the world ranking, but at least in my eyes, I'm on top of the golfing world right now, and I'm very, very proud of that," he added.
"I think I'll let the trophy and the week speak for itself."
Playing alongside Pereira in the final group, Matthew Fitzpatrick was forced to settle for a share of fifth place after carding a 73 that saw him miss the play-off by two strokes after starting the day on minus six.
Tommy Fleetwood was never really in the mix for the title but a fine closing 67 saw him join fellow Englishman Fitzpatrick on three under.
2021 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Zalatoris scrambled into the play-off with a round of 71, but Thomas always looked the more composed figure on the play-off holes 13, 17 and 18.
A drive to within 50 feet of the par-four 17th hole set him up for a tournament-winning birdie with Zalatoris' birdie and par on the opening play-off holes rendered futile.
Unlike the faltering Pereira, at least he had the opportunity of the play-off.
The world No. 100 had held a three-stroke lead heading into the final day with magnificent rounds of 68, 64 and 69, but could not hold on with just a par needed on the 18th hole to complete a spectacular triumph in only his second major.
"Obviously sad to be here and not in the play-off, not make par, just straight win," said the man from Santiago, who missed the cut at the 2019 US Open in his previous major appearance.
"On 18, I wasn't even thinking about the water. I just wanted to put it in play, and I guess I aimed too far right. I just hit in the water.
"It's not how I wanted to end up this week, but really good result. Played really good.
Today I was really nervous. 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."
Rory Mcllroy finished with a 68 to declare on two under for his week, but will wonder what might have been after an opening 65 saw him lead the field on Thursday.
Rounds of 71 and 75 ultimately did for his hopes of a third PGA title to go with his victories in 2012 and 2014, his last major victory.
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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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