After opening the BMW Championship with a 66 to sit T3 after day one, Justin Thomas proceeded to post rounds of 73, 75 and 71 to finish 1-over par 285.
The result was a tie for 52nd place. In a field of 67 players.
It marked the fifth-straight finish outside the top 10 for the Kentucky native – four of which were outside the top 35 and three outside the top 50.
To understand how uncharacteristically poor this is for Thomas, consider in his previous 17 starts he’d finished outside the top 35 just once (MC, the week after winning the PGA), while compiling fourteen top-20s, eleven top-10s and eight top-5s.
It’s not only Thomas’ poorest stretch of the 2022 season, it’s his worst in over six years, compiling a paltry 12.594 world ranking points in this five-tournament span.
Call it karma. Call it a distraction. But this bad stretch of golf comes after Thomas decided to join Rory McIlroy as the co-leader of the tour’s most strident anti-LIV faction.
The dramatic change in Thomas, from a popular superstar fresh off his second major to a slumping whiny lightning rod, got its start at the RBC Canadian Open with the 29-year-old initially defending Dustin Johnson and his decision to sign on with LIV.
“I think that the day and age that we live in now, it’s just so negative that you see it in everything,” said Thomas, who endured similar in 2021.
“Sports, politics, whatever it is – if you disagree with someone, you just feel that you’re entitled to hate them and talk bad about them and just bash their decision, when everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.
“It doesn’t make him a bad person. Now, I’m disappointed and I wish that he and others wouldn’t have done it, but that’s their decision.
“I’ve said it all along: Guys can do as they wish. If they want to go, they can go. If they want to stay, they can stay.”
Within 24 hours, though – and clearly after a talk with Ponte Vedra, Thomas changed his tune.
“I’m pleased,” said a smug-sounding Thomas, when asked for his reaction to the PGA Tour’s suspension of Johnson and others.
“I think anybody that’s shocked clearly hasn’t been listening to the message that Jay and everybody’s been putting out. They took that risk going into it, whether they thought it was a risk or not.
“Like I’ve said the whole time, I have great belief and great confidence in the PGA Tour and where we’re going and continuing to grow to, and those guys just aren’t going to be a part of it.”
The following week in Boston, ahead of the U.S. Open, Thomas was essentially anointed the media’s go-to guy, alongside McIlroy, for anti-LIV quotes.
Ironically, he was asked about his new role and how it may impact his performance on the course.
“How much is that [being the new anti-LIV leader] going to play into the way you play?,” asked a reporter after a Monday practice round.
Thomas said, “Well, I hope it wouldn’t change anything with how I play.”
How wrong he was.
Since that Monday in Boston, and in between “rallying the troops” with Tiger Woods and attacking former PGA Tour colleagues and Ryder Cup teammates, Thomas has posted the following results: T37 (U.S. Open), MC (Scottish Open), T53 (British Open), T13 (FedEx St Jude Championship) and T52 (BMW Championship).
You’d have to go all the way back to the early part of the 2016 season, when Thomas was just 22, to find a worse five-start stretch for the 15-time PGA Tour winner.
Also for the first time since 2016, Thomas will enter East Lake positioned outside the top 10 (13th), and with almost no shot at winning the FedEx Cup, breaking a streak of five straight seasons ranked 6th or better.
Even more troubling for Team Thomas is his badly damaged image.
Moral of the story: shut up and golf.