Justin Thomas brings back old putter, shoots 63

Read more at golfweek.usatoday.com

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Justin Thomas put his “baby” back in the bag and started making sweet music on the putting greens again.

The 28-year-old Thomas holed more than 100 feet of putts and made nine birdies on the day en route to shooting 8-under 63 at Liberty National Golf Club to share the first-round lead of The Northern Trust with World No. 1 Jon Rahm.

“I’ve got my baby back in the bag, my gamer,” Thomas explained after the round. “Sometimes you’ve got to put her on the shelf every once in a while to make her feel like she needs to perform a little better.”

Thomas had struggled with his putting enough between his rousing victory at the Players Championship in March and the U.S. Open in June that he benched his Scotty Cameron by Titleist Futura X 5.5 prototype putter for the past two months.

That changed after Thomas returned to his hometown of Louisville last week to host a junior tournament that bears his name. One of the junior golfers was using the putter that Thomas has had so much of his success with and asked him, “when are you going to start using it again?”

Northern Trust: Leaderboard | Photo gallery

“I found myself defending myself to this 15-year-old,” Thomas recalled. “I was like why am I not using this thing? I’ve had a lot of success. It’s not like I’m making a lot of putts with what I have. If you’re putting well, any of us can go out and putt with anything. I don’t know, it kind of hit me. I’m like the kid’s got a point. They designed a putter after it, maybe I should bring it out. When I brought it out, it looked good, it felt good.”

Did it ever during Thursday’s first round. Thomas rolled in three birdies in a row starting at the third hole and closed with another string of three birdies after his lone bogey of the day at the 15th hole. Thomas said he came to the realization that he was spending too much time trying to perfect his stroke, rather than focusing on feel.

“With putting, I don’t need to be a robot,” he said.

Justin Thomas during the first round of The Northern Trust on August 19, 2021 at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via AP Images

“I was honestly thinking there will be some rust to get rid of, and there was a little bit,” said the 26-year-old native of Spain. “It’s even hard to say because those first five holes or six holes, even though I was 2-under par, it was very close to being a very different story. That chip-in on 3, if it doesn’t hit the hole, I’m looking for a 40-footer for par. Made a great up and down on 4 and 5. I guess that’s why you practice the short game because that is three holes I stole a couple shots and got really full of confidence.”

While Rahm and Thomas were able to go low, the next best score was recorded by Harold Varner III, who finished T-3 here in 2019. This time, he is in solo third after shooting 5-under 66 in his morning round. He is one of six players currently projected to move inside the top 70 and qualify for the BMW Championship, the second leg of the three-week FedEx Cup playoffs.

Bryson DeChambeau shot 71 with just two par on his card, signing for one of the most topsy-turvy rounds of recent vintage. He became just the fourth player since 1983 to make two or fewer pars and record a score of even par or better.

Thomas, thanks to his putter, and Rahm, thanks to his ballstriking – he only made four putts longer than 4 feet – made scoring at Liberty National look easier than it was for the rest of the field.

“The fact that me and Justin shot a low score like that, it shows it’s possible, but we both played really, really good golf,” Rahm said. “I’m assuming he did as well. I felt like I played great.”

Read more at golfweek.usatoday.com

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button