Thomas finished at 25-under 263 - seven shots lower than what Woods shot at Medinah when he won the 2006 PGA Championship - and earned $1,665,000.
Two weeks after summiting the mountain, J.T. Poston walked off the 18th green at Medinah Country Club with visible frustration that broke through on even his otherwise placid visage.
The 2017 FedExCup champion will now start from pole position at the season finale in Atlanta.
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The victory was the 10th of his PGA Tour career but the first this year in what has been an injury-interrupted season.
Hideki Matsuyama took the 36-hole lead with a 63 until falling back with a 73. "It all worked out great - except my score".
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His tie for 37th ended up being his worst finish of the year in tournaments in which he made the cut.
Thomas birdied the first five holes, answered a bogey at six with a birdie at the par-5 eighth, hit an awesome approach at the par-5 10th to set up a tap-in eagle and sank a 22-foot birdie chip from the rough at the par-5 14th.
Thomas will enter the 2019 tournament at 10-under-par. He finished 17th in the Hero World Challenge in December.
"I just hope the trend doesn't continue and someone else breaks it tomorrow", Thomas said. Patrick made that very interesting. "We are proud to be returning to the Chicago area next year for the 2020 BMW Championship with him as our defending champion".
Thomas' win catapults him into the FedEx Cup lead and he will take a two-stroke lead into the start of the Tour Championship under its weird new format.
Adria Arnaus of Spain birdied two of the last three holes to post a 68 and claim second place, one shot off the lead.
Rounds of storms this weekend
A 40 percent chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms starts this afternoon, mainly between 3 and 8 p.m. Another round of storms will be possible Friday night into Saturday morning, the weather service said.
At next month's BMW PGA Championship, the new Pace of Play timing system will be trialled.
The playoff event will decide the 30 season points leaders who qualify for next week's showdown at East Lake in Atlanta.
Woods tied for 10th at the World Golf Championships Mexico Championship before beginning his major championship circuit. Patrick Cantlay will begin the 2019 Tour Championship at 8-under-par, followed by Brooks Keopka (-7), Patrick Reed (-6) and Rory McIlroy (-5).
Woods missed out on qualification for the TOUR Championship, as did Jordan Spieth (USA, -7, T37), Phil Mickelson (USA, -5, T48) and last year's BMW Championship victor Keegan Bradley (USA, -6, T43). This means that BMW will remain the BMW Championship title partner up to and including 2022.
An incredible day for the 2017 PGA Championship victor left the 26-year-old American on 21-under 195 after 54 holes at the suburban Chicago layout.
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