Lee Westwood has fallen agonisingly short of becoming the first Englishman to win the Players Championship and the oldest UK player to triumph on the PGA Tour.
Justin Thomas held off Westwood down the stretch on Sunday, firing a four-under par 68 to capture his first Players Championship for his 14th career US PGA Tour title.
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The 27-year-old American overtook Westwood on the back nine with a mid-round run of three birdies and an eagle.
Thomas was then solid down the stretch to secure his first victory of the season by one shot from Westwood.
The 2017 PGA Championship winner finished 72 holes on 14-under 274 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
"I'm so happy to be a Players champion," Thomas said.
"Probably one of the best rounds of my life tee to green."
He matched the best 36-hole comeback to win in Players history, rallying from seven strokes back by going 64-68 on the weekend, matching the lowest 36-hole close in tournament history.
Thomas battled controversy earlier this year, apologising for using a homophobic slur that TV microphones picked up at January's Tournament of Champions, one that cost him a Ralph Lauren sponsorship.
Fiancee revitalising Westwood's career as caddie
Despite the narrow loss it was a remarkable performance from 47-year-old Westwood.
With fiancee Helen Storey once again acting as his caddie, the Englishman showed he can still match it with the sport's best.
“At my stage of my career, there’s not a lot a caddie can tell me, but obviously Helen gets me in a fantastic mood out there, and psychologically she can help me and say the things that I need to hear,” Westwood said on Saturday.
“She helps me in that aspect an immeasurable amount.”
Westwood and Storey met in 2015 and she has been acting as his caddie since 2018.
The pair were introduced by Graham Wylie, a friend of Westwood’s who is married to Storey’s sister Andrea.
They are both divorced parents, with Westwood having a son, Sam, and a daughter, Poppy, while Storey has daughter, Edie.
Even rival golfer Bryson DeChambeau can see the chemistry between Westwood and Storey on the course.
“She’s keeping him steady and level-headed and she’s a rock,” DeChambeau said.
“(She) keeps his mind focused on the right things and she’s been awesome for him.
"That’s one of his secret weapons.”
And Westwood certainly agreed.
“Obviously I get on well with Helen,” he told Golfweek in 2019.
“She doesn’t know too much about golf but she knows a lot about the way my mind works.
"So she keeps me in a good frame of mind and focusing on the right things at the right time.
“There’s more to caddying than carrying and getting the wind direction.”
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