Justin Thomas downs Patrick Reed in playoff to win a wild Sentry Tournament of Champions

January 6, 2020

The 2020 calendar year officially kicked off on Thursday with the Sentry Tournament of Champions taking place on an updated Plantation Course at Kapalua. Three days later Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed were battling it out in a playoff. Here’s what you missed.

Who won: Justin Thomas (14 under, 278; birdie on third playoff hole)

How it happened: Schauffele led Thomas by one entering the day, but Thomas strung together four straight birdies on Nos. 8-11 to lead Patrick Reed by two and Schauffele by three. But Reed, playing a couple of groups ahead of Thomas and Schauffele, used a hot putter to keep climbing up the leaderboard. He made birdies on 13, 14 and 15 to get within a stroke of Thomas at one point, but Thomas followed two pars with a birdie on 14 to push his lead back to two over Reed and Schauffele. But on 16 Thomas made it interesting. He drove it into the bunker and made bogey, and his lead was back to one over Schauffele and Reed, who birdied the last to take the clubhouse lead at 14 under. Both players found the fairway on the long par-5 18th, but everything changed with their second shots. Thomas, still leading by one, over-cooked a draw and found the hazard short of the green, while Schauffele blasted a 5-wood onto the green for an eagle putt. Thomas dropped and pitched on to 8 1/2 feet but missed his par putt, but Schauffele three-putted for par when a birdie would have won it. That crazy sequence of events led to a playoff with Schauffele (70), Thomas (69) and Reed (66).

The playoff: All three players found the fairway when replaying the par-5 18th and went for the green with their second shots. Thomas finished in the rough right of the green, Schauffele rolled onto the front of the green and Reed was in the best position, his ball settling about 20 feet away. Reed two-putted easily for birdie and Thomas nearly chipped in for eagle, but instead knocked in his three-footer for birdie. Schauffele was eliminated from the playoff after his second straight three-putt. After heading back to the 18th tee, both players had birdie putts their second time around but couldn’t convert. Playing the 18th for the third time, Thomas stuck a wedge in close and sank his four-footer to win. Reed also had a birdie chance from about eight feet out but missed and cleaned up his par before Thomas ended it. To make matters worse for Reed, a fan also yelled “Cheater!” as his ball tracked toward the hole.

Why it matters: It’s the second PGA Tour victory of the season for Thomas, who also won the CJ Cup in October. It now pushes his win total on the PGA Tour to 12, which is one more than Jordan Spieth.

Best stinger: This certainly was the most mesmerizing tee ball of the day. Here’s Joaquin Niemann banging a stinger most of us can only dream of hitting.

Best clutch shot: Reed drained a 21-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole to shoot a seven-under 66, and while it didn’t seem to matter at the time, that long putt to get in at 14 under proved critical when Thomas bogeyed the 18th and Schauffele failed to birdie, forcing the three-way playoff that included Reed. Reed’s 66 was the low round of the day.

Wind, wind, go away: It’s been a windy week at the Tournament of Champions, but the worst of it came on Sunday, which saw steady winds of 20-30 mph and gusts approaching 40 mph. It made it tough on the field, but don’t worry, it wasn’t nearly as bad as this throwback Kapalua clip that actually blew a ball off the tee.

Up next: The Tour finishes its two-week stretch in Hawaii with the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, which begins Thursday. Thomas, Reed, Kevin Kisner and Webb Simpson headline the field. Spieth was in the tournament but withdrew over the weekend.