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Flat Firestone Finish As Thomas Claims First WGC Win

Justin Thomas captured his first World Golf Championship title in the last Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.
As a farewell after 64 years of service, the finale of the WGC Bridgestone at Firestone Country Club in Ohio could best be described as flat.

Overnight leader Justin Thomas had a three-shot lead at the start of the day and had increased the margin to four by the end.

In between, nobody applied any pressure and the bulk of the field either trod water or went backwards.

None of which takes away from a brilliant performance by the man who will defend his maiden major title at next week’s PGA Championship in Bellerive, it’s just a shame there couldn’t have been a more compelling finish for the sake of the venue.

Firestone has its critics but it has been a PGA Tour mainstay for more than six decades, including hosting three PGA Championships.

Veteran players in the field, including eight-time winner Tiger Woods, said they would be sad not to return to Akron because of the people who had been loyal fans and volunteers for decades.

Ties between professional golf and the course won’t be completely severed as the over 50s Champions Tour will play a tournament here from next year but still, it’s not the same.

Thomas finished 15-under after a 1-under final round, four ahead of Kyle Stanley and five clear of Thorbjorn Olesen and World Number One Dustin Johnson who returned two of the best scores of the day.

Olesen was out early and around in 64 while Johnson followed later with some extraordinary front nine fireworks - followed by a pedestrian back nine - to sign for the same total.

Day got it going briefly but dropped five shots in five holes to fall out of contention.

The 2016 winner was out in 6-under 29 then birdied the 10th to put the Twittersphere on 59 watch before it all came to a grinding halt.

Seven consecutive pars followed, then a clumsy bogey at the final hole ended the week on a less than high note. Johnson, though, was philosophical and quoted from the PGA Tour handbook when asked about it after the round.

“Any time you shoot 64 around this course is a positive,” he said.

Several others would have been more than pleased to bogey the last for 64, especially Rory McIlroy or Jason Day.

Both headed to the first tee Sunday with legitimate hopes of victory but both produced less than their best golf as each signed for 73.

It was hardly the warm-up either was looking for ahead of the year’s final major, Day no doubt particularly frustrated with a horror finish.

After turning 1-over he clawed his way back into contention with three straight birdies from the 10th before inexplicably losing the magic.

He leaked five shots in as many holes, including a double bogey at the par-5 16th where he dunked a wedge in the water with his third from less than 60 metres.

McIlroy’s struggles were less spectacular but ultimately led to the same outcome, five dropped shots against just two birdies a mystifying result.

The Northern Irishman was again inconsistent with his wedges, wasting several spectacular drives by missing greens from inside 100 metres.

Among the Australians, Marc Leishman matched Day’s 73 to drop to T14 while Cameron Smith posted the only sub-par score of the day by the antipodean bridgade, a 3-under 67 to jump 13 places in the standings to T23.

Wade Ormsby played alongside Tiger Woods but they dragged each other down, both shooting 73 as Ormsby slipped to T39 but he was still one better than Adam Scott whose 74 dropped him to T57.

RULES - BALL EMBEDDED IN FAIRWAY:

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