(Reuters) - Justin Thomas overcame a slow start for a second straight day before five birdies in seven holes helped him wrap up a wire-to-wire victory in record style at the Sony Open in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday.
The long-hitting American clinched his fourth PGA Tour title, his second in a row and his third of the young season, by seven strokes after firing a five-under-par 65 at Waialae Country Club for a stunning 27-under total of 253.
Thomas, who had opened with a magical 11-under 59 to take control of the tournament, signed off with a comfortable two-putt birdie at the par-five last to add yet another slice of golf history to his dominant week of multiple records.
His aggregate for 72 holes eclipsed the previous PGA Tour low of 254, set by Tommy Armour III at the 2003 Texas Open.
“That’s awesome,” Thomas, 23, told Golf Channel after becoming the first player since Ernie Els in 2003 to win back-to-back titles in Hawaii during the same season.
“I remember someone saying in a press conference that I needed 10-under on the weekend (for the PGA Tour low) so I told (caddie) Jimmy (Johnson) with two holes left we need to get one of these last two.
“It’s been an unbelievable week, unforgettable.”
England’s Olympic champion Justin Rose birdied three of the last four holes for a 64 to finish second at 20-under, one stroke ahead of double major winner Jordan Spieth, who fired his best round of the week with a 63.
“I honestly felt like I was trying to win the tournament for second place,” Spieth said while paying tribute to the sizzling form of his good friend Thomas. “JT, it’s pretty unbelievable what he’s doing right now.
“He’s got full control of his game, full confidence and he’s executing under pressure. It’s a lot of fun to see.”
Seven strokes in front after the third round, Thomas took a while to find his rhythm on Sunday.
He three-putted from long range to bogey the par-three fourth, did well to sink an eight-foot putt for par at the sixth and briefly had his lead cut to just four before he clicked back into gear.
“I was really nervous this morning, I just had a hard time getting into a comfortable mind frame,” said Thomas, who is projected to rise to a career-high eighth in the world rankings on Monday.
“I was doing what I needed to do. I was making some pars, besides that bad bogey on four, but that par putt I made on six was huge.
“I think if I missed that I start maybe worrying a little bit but I knew the last 10-hole stretch I was very comfortable with so I just tried to stay patient.”
Thomas drained a 22-footer at the par-four eighth, the first of five birdies over the next seven holes as he shut the door on his closest challengers to cap a triumphant fortnight in Hawaii.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in St Augustine, Florida; Editing by Peter Rutherford/John O'Brien