PGA Tour

Thomas wins back-to-back PGA Tour money titles

Justin Thomas (AP)
Justin Thomas (AP)

New York - Tiger Woods finished off the PGA Tour season by tapping in for par to win the Tour Championship, a moment that ended any doubts that he could win again after four surgeries on his lower back. And then the moment was gone.

Hours later, Woods and 17 other players were headed to France for the all-consuming Ryder Cup. And with barely enough time to digest Europe winning and Patrick Reed pouting, the PGA Tour started up a new season in California.

A few nuggets were lost in the quick transition.

Justin Thomas tied for fifth at the Tour Championship, and that was enough for him to win the PGA Tour money title for the second straight year after earning $8 694,821, beating out Dustin Johnson by $237 469. That was the smallest margin since Matt Kuchar won by $100 855 over Jim Furyk in 2010.

The PGA Tour no longer talks about money in the FedEx Cup era, though Thomas still wins a trophy. The Arnold Palmer Award is given to the leading money winner. Thomas became the first back-to-back winner of the award since Woods in 2006 and 2007.

Johnson, meanwhile, won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average (the PGA Tour has the Byron Nelson Award, so Johnson gets two trophies). Johnson won for the second time in three years. The first time, in 2016, he wasn't sure what it was.

Brooks Koepka won PGA Tour player of the year, which was no surprise considering his two major championships. The only time someone won two majors and was not PGA Tour player of the year was in 1990, when Nick Faldo wasn't a PGA Tour member.

For the first time in 10 years, the tour's three main awards were won by three players - Koepka, Thomas and Johnson. In 2008, Padraig Harrington was the player of the year, Vijay Singh won the money title and Sergio Garcia won the Vardon Trophy.

Singh won the money title by $826 094 over Woods while playing 17 more events. That was the year Woods had season-ending knee surgery in June, so he was ineligible for the Vardon Trophy (Woods played only 20 rounds). Harrington won two majors that year.

As for Woods?

The Tour Championship was his 80th victory, which was well documented even with all the attention on the Ryder Cup. He also improved his record to 44-2 when leading going into the final round on the PGA Tour. Also worth noting is that Woods joined Johnson and Rory McIlroy with his fourth FedEx Cup playoff victory.

The victory also meant Woods has won five tournaments in three decades - Firestone, Torrey Pines, Memorial, Tour Championship and World Golf Championships at Valderrama in 1999, Ireland in 2002, Atlanta in 2003, Harding Park in 2005, England in 2006 and Doral in 2007 and 2013.

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