(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Ryan Herrington
Justin Thomas was 14 strokes back of Webb Simpson entering final round at the Players Championship, so victory at TPC Sawgrass wasn’t a real consideration. Yet the 25-year-old managed to walk away with an impressive title on Sunday, nevertheless.
How does World No.1 sound?
A closing six-under 66 bumped Thomas into a tie for 11th for the week. And when Dustin Johnson shot an even-par 72 to finish T-17, Thomas ended DJ’s 64-week run atop the Official World Golf Ranking.
Making the feat all the more impressive is the fact that Thomas made the cut on the number on Friday at one under par. But a bogey-free 68 on Saturday moved him into jumped him to T-33, and into a position to make another big leap on Sunday.
In the last 17 months, Thomas has won six PGA Tour titles, including a major in the PGA Championship. In the 2017-’18 season, Thomas has two victories and five top-10 finishes in 13 starts and leads the tour’s FedEx Cup points standings.
“Being No. 1 in the world is a great accomplishment, but keeping that spot is more important to me,” Thomas said in a statement released by his management group. “I am very proud of this achievement and do not take it for granted. I will definitely enjoy it for the moment, but I have to continue to work hard and focus on putting myself in contention every week I play.”
Sounds like a man with a play. Thomas next start will be at the Memorial before playing in the U.S. Open and the Travelers Championship in back-to-back weeks in June.
If it’s any solace, Johnson, who was No. 1 for the fifth-longest streak in the history of the ranking, didn’t fall far, dropping only to No. 2. Jordan Spieth moved up one spot to No. 3, while Jon Rahm fell one spot to No. 4.
Thomas becomes the 21st golfer to hold the No. 1 ranking since its inception in 1986, and the fourth youngest behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. He’s also the seventh American golfer to be No. 1.