Honda Classic: Justin Thomas wins play-off with Luke List as Tiger Woods finishes 12th

Golf
Justin Thomas celebrates
Justin Thomas celebrates

Justin Thomas beat Luke List at the first play-off hole to win the Honda Classic - as Tiger Woods finished 12th in his best finish since 2015.

Final leaderboard

-8 Luke List, Justin Thomas* (Won at first play-off hole)

-7 Alex Noren

-6 Tommy Fleetwood

-4 Webb Simpson, Byeong Hun An

Day four report

Justin Thomas claimed an eighth win of his career as he claimed the Honda Classic at the first extra hole of a tense play-off with Luke List.

After both finished the tournament on eight-under par The US PGA Championship winner kept his nerve with a birdie on the par-five 18th hole to pip List to the title and claim his first win of the year.

"It's never easy," said Thomas, who is now 16/1 to win the Masters. "I would just say I'm becoming more comfortable. I embrace these situations, I love these situations and having the opportunity to win."

European challenges from Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood fell just shot as they finished one and two shots back respectively, while Tiger Woods threatened to roll back the years with an early birdie run before finishing in 12th on level par.

It was another positive step forward for Woods, who was competing in consecutive events for the first time since his latest back surgery and recorded his best PGA Tour finish since August 2015.

It could have been even better had Woods not dropped three shots on his closing four holes, but on a tough course in tough conditions with a top field, it represented his best effort yet since his injury problems.

"I need to get back in the gym and start training," said Woods, who is 20/1 for the Masters. "I've played a couple of weeks, the body feels good, I just need to keep it feeling good.

"I made a big leap this week, really hit it well."

Fleetwood led at one point on the final day but finished fourth, and he now turns his attentions to next week's WGC-Mexico Championship in Mexico City, where he finished second to Dustin Johnson last year.

"I loved it," he told Sky Sports. "I really did enjoy it. I would love to be hanging around (in the play-off) and seeing what's going to happen but overall, what a great week.

"I will have a little rest tonight and tomorrow and (go to) a golf course that I obviously enjoyed last year and that I played well. We can see what I do next week, but so far so good this year and keep going and keep enjoying it."

Round three report

Tommy Fleetwood closed his third round with an eagle to head into the final day of the Honda Classic two shots behind leader Luke List.

The Englishman produced his best round of the tournament on Saturday, carding two eagles, two birdies, a bogey and a double bogey to sign for a 67 and move to five under par.

Speaking after his round to CBS Sports, Fleetwood said: "Great, great finish. I made two eagles so that was always going to be great. I made some great up and downs as well.

"Just that finish... the toughest part of the course and I finished really strongly, so I'm very happy.

"I would love to get my first win on the PGA Tour this week, that'll be something I want to do until I get it. It's great to be playing on courses like this that are such a test of every part of your game."

American List heads the field on seven under after posting a second successive 66. His round included three birdies before the turn and finished with a birdie-bogey-birdie run.

List's countrymen Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson sit in a share of second on six under.

Sweden's Alex Noren fired a 65 on day three to jump to four under.

Tiger Woods broke 70 for the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years, carding three birdies in a round of 69.

Round two report

Rory McIlroy needed a slice of good fortune and a cool head to make the cut at the Honda Classic as he carded a second 72 to close on four over par.

Big-hitting Americans Luke List and Jamie Lovemark lead the way on three-under, seven clear of McIlroy, the former having carded a sublime round of 66 in difficult conditions.

Tiger Woods was within one of the lead before a double-bogey at the par-three 15th after finding water off the tee, but a birdie at the tough 17th saw him end the day within four and in a share of 14th.

England's Tommy Fleetwood is just one off the lead along with former champions Rory Sabbatini and Russell Henley, with Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger, Thomas Pieters and our tip Louis Oosthuizen a further shot adrift.

McIlroy conceded that conditions at PGA National were better suited to preparing for the US Open rather than the Masters in a few weeks' time, and he looked in danger of missing a second cut in three starts after a triple-bogey six at the 17th.

The world number 10 made another encouraging start with a birdie at the 10th followed by a run of clutch par saves, but he came to grief at the notorious 17th when he blocked his tee ball into the water hazard, dumped his third into a bunker from the drop zone and needed three to get down.

McIlroy then parred the first five holes of the front nine, including another excellent up-and-down at the third, and he gave himself a cushion in his fight to make the weekend when he used the contours of the sixth green to his advantage to get his approach to six feet before rattling in a confident putt for birdie.

But he gave the shot back immediately with another bunkered tee shot at the short seventh and, after a par at the eighth, his approach from the right rough to the ninth looked to be heading for more sand but hit a spectator on the foot and came to rest.

The 28-year-old still faced a tricky up-and-down from an awkward stance, but he pitched to six feet and held his nerve to nail the putt which ensured he would be around for another 36 holes.

Explaining his adventurous par at the ninth, McIlroy said: "That ball would have rolled back into the bunker if some guy's foot hadn't been there. I guess the guy, one of the FBI guys that was following our group, he was asking him about the rules and he goes, 'I'm a cop. I'm law enforcement, so don't be asking me'!

"That was one of the best fours I've made out here the last couple days. I think it's probably the longest I've ever taken to try to hit a golf shot because I didn't know whether to stand in the bunker or out of the bunker. But I ended up making a good four in the end.

"It was another tough day, and it probably played tougher than it did yesterday. The greens are a little firmer, the wind is pretty similar and it seemed like every hole that we had a right-to-left wind, the pin was on the right and vice versa. So it was hard to get it close, but I grinded it out - especially after the six on 17.

"I was trying to just play a little bit of a different shot with the five-iron and sort of cut it in there, and I just got way ahead of it. The ball started much further right than I wanted to and it just drifted into the water. Again, I tried to play the shot that was the right one. I just didn't make a good swing.

"But to play a good 10 holes after that, and be level par for those, that's sort of all you're hoping for out there today, Anything around 70 and you're going to be doing well."

McIlroy is playing eight tournaments in 10 weeks to get plenty of competitive golf under his belt ahead of the Masters in April, but conditions at PGA National have been more similar to a US Open set-up.

"It's US Open conditions and US Open scoring," he added. "It's pretty much the preparation for everything but what we want it to be. I guess the greens are getting a little fast, so that's one thing, and it seems like it's been quite blustery the last couple years at Augusta. But yeah, it's probably the furthest thing from Augusta right now around here."

Round one report

Tiger Woods showed all his customary fight to card an even-par 70 in the opening round of the Honda Classic.

Woods sits four shots off first-round leaders Webb Simpson and Alex Noren, but his round was two shots better than Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, who both shot 72.

14-time major champion Woods made an ideal start to the event, his third of the season, with birdies at holes 11 and 13 helping him share the lead having started on the 10th tee.

Woods was still going along nicely at one-under early on during his second nine, having made just one bogey at the difficult 16th, but a double-bogey seven at the par-five third threatened to derail his round.

Woods took five shots to find the green at statistically the easiest hole on the golf course, before missing from inside four feet and ultimately giving two shots away.

But those expecting him to fold over a difficult closing stretch instead witnessed his tenacity of old, as Woods responded immediately with a birdie at the tricky fourth hole before a string of pars saw him shoot an excellent score in difficult conditions.

Woods' round was put into perspective by the fact that only 20 players of the 140-man field shot under par, with McIlroy and Garcia two of those who failed to shoot under 70.

"It was a pretty tough day. (The) wind was up, (the) greens got a little sort of crusty and firm," said McIlroy, who made double bogey on the 18th.

"I felt like I was hanging on pretty well, doing what I needed to do, just sort of grinding out pars and was pushing for a birdie at the last to try and shoot under par and just tried to hold a three wood into the wind and overdid it a little bit.

"So, a disappointing finish but we'll get back out tomorrow morning and try to rectify that mistake and start again."

Playing just ahead of Woods, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger traded blows as they set the early target on three-under - one which would be passed less than an hour later.

Thomas was third here in 2016 and, returning a considerably better player, showed that he might just be the man to beat despite two late mistakes.

Berger, who lost a play-off at what's his home event to Padraig Harrington three years ago, bounced back from last week's missed cut at Riviera to join his former college rival at the top of the leaderboard.

Two-time PGA Tour winner Berger was bogey-free, managing to scramble par on the sixth when blasting his second shot out of the water hazard having also done well to avoid a mistake at the par-four 14th earlier in the round.

Morgan Hoffman - second to Rickie Fowler a year ago - bounced back to form under familiar conditions to also card 67, but four birdies over his closing nine holes saw Alex Noren take over at the top as he looks to go one better than when second at Torrey Pines three weeks ago.

Noren birdied the ninth hole to shoot 66 and post a clubhouse target which could only be matched by former US Open winner Simpson..

Fowler, teeing off late, got his title defence off to an ideal start with birdie at the first hole but finished with a one-over round of 71.

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