Justin Thomas has now clinched his first Major title
Thomas, 24 came from two shots back in a final round posting a last day 68 and winning by two shots with an eight-under victory tally.
The win is also Thomas’ fourth this 2016/17 PGA Tour season having tasted success late last year in Malaysia and then celebrating the New Year winning back-to-back in Hawaii that included shooting a 59 in the Hawaiian Open.
And among the first to congratulate Thomas, who is also the first under-25 to win the PGA Championship as his first Major in 82-years, was Spieth.
“It's awesome that guys like Jordan and Rickie where there to congratulate me and I think they know I would do the same for them,” said Thomas.
“It's a cool little friendship we have. I know Rickie was a couple groups in front and Jordan was probably through nine or something when I finished.
“I just didn't believe Bud Cauley stayed around. He's one of my best friends. We live together in Florida. I was about ten minutes from going to tee off and he was walking off to go sign his scorecard.
“So, he hung around for an entire 18 holes just to stick around, and not knowing what could happen.
“But I think that kind of shows, you know, where the game is right now, where all of us are. I mean, we obviously all want to win. We want to beat the other person.
“Also, if we can't win, we at least want to enjoy it with our friends. I think that we'll all be able to enjoy this together, and I know it's going to make them more hungry, just like it did me, for Jordan at the British, or whatever you want to say”.
Thomas began his round bogey, birdie and bogey but regrouped round holing a 36-footer for birdie at the ninth hole and then at the par three, 13th he had the Charlotte crowd roaring their delight when he chipped-in from 40-feet and just off the green also for birdie.
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However, Thomas saved the best for near the last and delivering the largest roar of the championship in finding the ‘side door’ with a 14-foot birdie putt at the 71st hole to move then three shots clear of his rivals at nine-under before dropping a shot at the last after finding a fairway bunker with his drive.
Thomas was contesting only his third PGA Championship and just a 10th Major, and having finished a prior best of T9th in this year’s US Open.
“I know that a Major Champion will never be taken away from, you know, after my name,” he said.
“Hopefully I'm going to win some more, plenty more, a lot more, whatever. I know you can't get to two unless you get one.
“So, I'm excited to have this, and it's incredible. It was an awesome day. It was a great experience. It's huge for me. I mean, who knows what will happen. But it's just big for the year.
“You know, we're getting to the end of the year. We're getting to crunch time and the FedEx Cup and the Playoffs, and this puts me in a lot better position than I was before the week started. I'm just excited for that, I'd say more than anything”.
Thomas was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and first stamped his potential at the 2009 Wyndham Championship in becoming the third youngest to make the cut in a PGA Tour event at 16 years, 3 months and 24 days.
And Thomas' father, Mike Thomas, has been the head professional at the Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen, Kentucky, since 1990.
There were then very emotional scenes, and with his father in tears, at the presentation of the gleaming Rodman Wanamaker trophy.
Italy’s Francesco Molinari (67) finished the leading European and securing his best finish in 33 Majors grabbing the clubhouse lead at six-under par before eventually settling for a share of second place on six-under par.
“It was great to be the top European”, said Molinari.
“I had a really bad start on Saturday and it was pretty hard to recover from that. So that adds to the satisfaction after today.
Kevin Kisner ended up in a tie for seventh
“It would have been nice to start the day maybe a couple of shots closer to the leaders, but it was great getting to the last three holes tied for the lead.
“You know, it's what you practice for and what you train for. Hopefully I'll get more soon.”
Also sharing the bridesmaid role was American Patrick Reed (67), South African Louis Oosthuizen (70).
Oosthuizen, who captured the 2010 Open, has now been runner-up in four Majors.
The final round turned into a nail-biting affair with as many as five golfers tied for the lead at seven-under mid-round in the year’s final Major before Thomas emerged the winner.
Spieth’s quest to gazump Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy in joining the ‘Grand Slam’ is now on the back-burner to next year’s PGA Championship in St.Louis.
The three-time Major winner, who was aged 23 in winning last month’s Open Championship, was never a factor with scores of 72, 73, 71 and 70 for two-over tally and a finish just inside the top-30.
Spieth capped his last round with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the 12th hole but sticking out like the proverbial dog’s hind leg on his scorecard was a double bogey ‘7’ on his seventh.
“Michael (caddy) was telling me walking off 18 today. He goes, Hey, just want you to know that's a great year in the majors”, said Spieth.
“I go, Buddy, we won one of the majors. I understand that's a great year in the majors.
“He almost thinks I'm disappointed maybe with how this week went. But we won a major. We had a chance to win at Augusta, too. The U.S. Open and here are — I didn't have a chance to win, which is a downer.
“But overall, when I look back on the year in the major championships, shoot, it was fantastic. If I did this every year, I would go down as the greatest ever to play the game.
“So, that is the way I look at it and I am”.
Spieth’s lost opportunity is now Rory McIlroy’s gain and with the Ulsterman heading back to Augusta National next April in what will be ‘Take Four’ at his goal of joining just five others to have won all four Majors.
And despite all the uncertainty now whether McIlroy will take an extended break after revealing the pain and frustration of a continuing nagging rib injury, it is clear where his thoughts rally lie.
"I know there is a big part of the year left but we really don't have a big one (Major) until next April so that is really what I am going to try and concentrate on", said McIlroy.