Palm Harbor, Florida – At this week’s Valspar Championship, it’s as if Justin Thomas has a quiet angel sitting on one shoulder, and a boring devil on the other.
As one of the game’s top players, the former world number one, Thomas is far from satisfied with his current world of eighth (“to be perfectly honest,” Thomas admitted earlier in the week, “that displeases me with my place in the rankings. It’s It only shows the level of golf being played.”) Although Thomas has been showing off some of his high-quality golf, he hasn’t won it in a year ( 2021 players). The veteran competitor inside tells him that he must be patient, and it will happen, however…
“Those two, when you use both those phrases, I think, in the same sentence, they don’t make any sense,” Thomas said Friday after launching for the second time in a row at the Copperhead tournament in Innsbruck. “It’s easy to get frustrated with it (his ranking and not winning), but usually when you’re frustrated, you force things, or you want things to start.
“I haven’t been here for a crazy long time, but I’ve been here long enough to know that things like this happen, and you’ll go in times when things might not go well… the difference between those hits that go in that don’t go in, and some balls that bounce In the aisle bounce in the basement.And then, when you get those hot streaks, periods of 10 months, and a year and a half, and two years, like I was in 2017 and 2018, or like DJ (Dustin Johnson), (John) it was Ram, Colin (Morikawa), these guys, as it happens.”
Thomas, 28, has put in a great show so far at Valspar, taking advantage of the softer conditions to score 11 birds and eagles through the 36 holes. Running the bad course in Part VII (his 16th hole a day) cost him two bullets. Thomas attempted to hit a hook protruding from the left bristle with a 52-degree wedge around a tree, didn’t hang the shot nearly enough, and finished 35 yards out of the green—it resulted in a double bogey that robbed him of some momentum. But it was one small moment across what had been a very strong day of playing. He hit 14 Greens on Thursday’s slate, and another 13 on Friday, the kind of ball hit that should have him swirling around the top spot this weekend.
“He’s an exceptional ball striker,” Jim “Bones” Mackay said on the pack, who traded into the TV mic for a return to the party due to Thomas’ immense talent and potential. “I was telling my wife last night, that as much as I knew it was good when I wanted to come and work with him, it was better.
“Yesterday (Thursday) it was amazing to watch. He took all those shots, and the sound the ball was making coming off the iron, even at this level here, was amazing.”
Count Mackay is among those who stunned in the second round 69 that Thomas put together a week ago in stormy and difficult conditions at THE PLAYERS Tournament. The tour was nothing short of artful, with Thomas often taking more club than usual and creating fancy shots in winds of up to 40 mph. Bubba Watson also played a great role in this tie, shooting 68, but a great deal of Thomas’ tour was televised and garnered near-universal applause. It’s not often that Thomas makes a 3-ounce shot and will get a lot of pats on the back from his fellow players.
“Some of the people who followed it and watched it understood how difficult that day was,” he said. “It was really. I’ve never played a round of golf that hard when the course is that hard…Hopefully it will be the hardest round I’ll be playing all year.”