It was Luvo Manyonga who actually got me thinking about American Justin Thomas, who won the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow on Sunday. How so, you may ask?
How can a long jumper be compared to a golfer? Well, when Luvo became world champion in London with another of his giant leaps, I paced out, in a passage at my home, the 8.5 metres he regularly jumps.
By coincidence, the passage is almost exactly 8.5m long and I marvelled as to how any human being could fly that far. And I guess it’s the same for any sport.
The 24-year-old Justin Thomas may be a little guy – 1.7m and 68kg – but he hit the longest drive on the PGA Tour last year, 377m in the WGC-Bridgestone International.
That’s like a par-four on my home course where I cannot imagine anyone getting on the green in one. Not even close.
All sorts of theories have been put forward as to how Thomas manages to fly the ball so far with such a small frame.
On the 2016-2017 PGA Tour, Thomas has already won four times and accumulated over $7 million (about R92.7 million).
And in the first of the three victories prior to the PGA triumph, he was a cumulative 72-under-par. So, clearly, the guy can putt as well as bomb huge drives down the middle.
Quail Hollow is a mighty tough course, with deep Bermuda rough along its 7 600 yards and rock-hard greens that make balls slide around like marbles.
And the toughest stretch of holes is the so-called fearsome “Green Mile”. This is the 506-yard par-four 16th, with a lake guarding the green, the 223-yard par-three (this is long for a ‘short’ hole) with water fronting and guarding the green, and the tortuous 494-yard par-four 18th with fairway bunkers and a nasty creek.
But Thomas, with his first Major title on the line, cruised through that Green Mile on Sunday afternoon to seal a memorable victory.
Louis Oosthuizen, of course, completed a ‘Grand Slam’ of sorts by finishing in a tie for second, two back of Thomas.
Louis has now been second at each of golf’s four Majors. After playoff losses at the 2015 Open and the 2012 Masters, as well as second at the 2015 US Open, Oosthuizen again proved he enjoys the big stage, but was unable to find a way to get over the line this time, despite a one-under 70.
In the Green Mile he bogeyed 16, where Thomas birdied. That was the difference in the end.
Still, well done Louis, great stuff Luvo, you wowed us Justin Thomas.
As I said, fine examples of what man can accomplish – if you get my drift.