Justin Thomas carries with him a reputation for being able to go low. Like in a hurry low. His college teammate at Alabama once described his game as being able to “get it in the hole quicker than anyone else.”
Now all PGA Tour pros can shoot low scores, but no one on Tour has a greater ability than Thomas to make a bad tournament decent, and a mediocre one great.
That’s exactly what the 27-year old Thomas did on Saturday at TPC Sawgrass. As fans and media murmured about the lack of star power atop the leaderboard, the Kentucky native – like a thoroughbred with the inside position – came out of the gate at top speed, scoring four quick birdies in a row. A stumble on the 5th hole – his only one of the day – was quickly offset with a fifth birdie on the par-4 7th.
After his hot start, the world No. 3 had a dead simple goal: “just keep making birdies.”
Thomas said, “I didn’t want to kind of hold back and play away from making bogeys, I wanted to just keep making birdies.”
He turned on 4-under 32, and 6 under for the tournament. And as he’d done on the front, he “kept making birdies.”
A near hole out from 139, on the par-4 10th, led to one of those ‘let me get out of your way’ tap-ins. He did similar on the next hole, the par-5 11th. After two perfect shots his 31-foot eagle attempt had the distance but came to rest about six inches to the left of the cup. He walked up, barely gave it a line, and just tapped it in for birdie 4.
Back to back birdies, total putt distance? Less than 2 feet.
“Yeah, I wish all rounds were that easy. I hit the ball beautifully, I drove it well,” said Thomas.
His final score came on the par-5 15th where he again fired at the flag – this time nearly holing an albatross.
From 204 yards, Thomas hit a 7 iron dead perfect. And the twirl wasn’t bad either. Arriving on the green, he walked up to his ball, leaned over, keeping just one foot on the ground, and tapped in for eagle 3 to reach 10 under.
Asked to comment on his day, Thomas said, “It’s such a fun golf course to play.
“Because you can shoot 2- or 3-over so easily but, man, you can shoot 63 or 64 so quickly too.”
Not everyone “can shoot 63 or 64 quickly,” but Justin Thomas sure can.