KAPALUA, Hawaii — Justin Thomas had to sweat it out more than he wanted to enjoy the view down the 18th hole at Kapalua on Sunday.
Thomas had a five-shot lead with five holes to play when he got caught in a battle with Hideki Matsuyama down the stretch in the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions. Thomas responded with a defining shot in his young career, an 8-iron approach he ripped from 214 yards to 3 feet on the 17th.
Matsuyama, one shot behind and needing a birdie, ran his 30-foot putt about 8 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey. Thomas knocked in his short putt for a three-shot lead, and he went on to another birdie for 4-under 69 and a three-shot win at 22-under 270.
Thomas, who led after Round 3, won for the second time this season and third time in his career. He is the first multiple winner on the tour in a season that began in October. He moves to No. 12 in the world and onto a growing list of young stars.
"I stumbled more than I would have liked to do (in the tournament)," Thomas, 23, said. "But it shows where my game is at right now. I had some woes there, but I stuck it out to still get it done."
Thomas is the only player to beat Matsuyama (70) over the past three months. In his past six events worldwide, Matsuyama has four wins and two runnerup finishes, both to Thomas. Jordan Spieth shot 65 to tie for third at 16 under with Pat Perez (67) and Ryan Moore (71).