Thomas, Simpson, Day turn in strong finishes

Sentry Tournament of Champions

Justin Thomas chips to the ninth green during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday at the Kapalua Plantation Course. Thomas shot 8-under 65 to finish third at 18-under 274. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KAPALUA — Before Xander Schauffele posted his dramatic course-record-tying 62, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson and Jason Day had the scores of the day in the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Sunday at the Kapalua Plantation Course.

Thomas shot 8-under 65 to finish third at 18-under 274 — the 2017 champion of this event is 55-under par in four appearances here. He tied for 22nd here last year.

“It was a good week. A lot of positives,” Thomas said. “Definitely felt like I accomplished a lot more than I did last year here. But, yeah, it was nice to not have as much wind today and finally feel like could I make some putts. I had had a hard time trusting my lines and the speed with the wind and made some good putts out there, especially bogeying the first hole when I knew I needed to go deep and rally, and … 9 under my last 16 holes is a nice way to finish the tournament.”

The former University of Alabama golfer will watch the national championship football game today with fellow Alabama alumni before lining up for the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club on Oahu.

“Rest. I want to rest my legs. They’re pretty tired,” Thomas said. “There’s just no way to really prepare for walking this golf course. It’s shin-splint heaven. My right shin is hollering at me pretty good right now. But, no, I’m just going to keep, get some rest and watch the ‘Bama football game tomorrow afternoon and do my usual Tuesday, Wednesday prep work on wedges and short game.”

Simpson

Simpson fired an 8-under 65 to vault from 17th at the start of the day to a tie for eighth, finishing at 13-under 279. His round included two eagles, a 3 on the 521-yard ninth and a 2 on the 305-yard 14th.

Simpson drove the green before making a 14-foot putt on No. 14.

“I think the difference today was the putts were going in,” Simpson said. “I didn’t really make anything the first three rounds. I think we figured out something yesterday on the second nine, just how we’re going to read them a little differently. Taking a harder look at the grain like we do in Florida. And that helped. So made putts today and shot lower.”

Day shot a 66 that included eight birdies, three bogeys and an eagle 2 on No. 14. He hit his tee shot there 278 yards to 39 feet away. He finished 13th at 11-under 281 — he started the day tied for 18th after a 75 on Saturday.

“Definitely, a lot of good signs,” Day said. “Like the only crazy thing was is that it just I would hit good putts and then they would just go (awry), I struggled reading them this week, especially on the shorter ones. So I missed a lot of short ones that I don’t really typically miss.”

Day

Day, ranked No. 14 in the world, feels he is not too far away.

“I’ve just got to go back to Palm Springs and practice a little bit more and hopefully get the reads right and the speed right,” Day said. “But it’s obviously very disappointing with how I finished yesterday. Would have liked to have, it was obviously easy conditions in the first two days, so it would have been nice to be able to get out there and get myself into some sort of contention. And then to play the way I did today was obviously leaving that on a positive note.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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