JERSEY CITY, NJ – Justin Thomas put his “baby” back in the bag and started making sweet music on the greens again.
Thomas, 28, had more than 100 feet of putts and had nine birdies on the day en route to shooting 8 under 63 at Liberty National Golf Club to share the lead in The Northern Trust’s first round with the No. 1 in the world. Jon Rahm.
“I put my baby back in the bag, my player,” Thomas explained after the round. “Sometimes you have to put her on the shelf once in a while to make her feel like she needs to perform a little better.”
Thomas had struggled enough with his putting between his blowout win at The Players Championship in March and the US Open in June that he had 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 named after him. One of the junior golfers was using the putter that Thomas had so much success with and asked him, “When are you going to start using it again?”
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“I found myself defending myself in front of this 15-year-old,” recalls Thomas. “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 play well, any of us can go out and putt anything I don’t know it kinda kinda hit me I’m like the kid got a point They designed a putter after maybe I should When I took it out, it looked good, it felt good.
I did it in the first round on Thursday. Thomas birdied three in a row from the third hole and closed with another streak of three birdies after his only bogey of the day on the 15thand hole. Thomas said he found he was spending too much time trying to perfect his shot, rather than focusing on the feel.
“With putting, I don’t have to be a robot,” he said.
“I honestly thought there would be rust to remove, and there was a bit,” said the 26-year-old Spaniard. “It’s even hard to tell because those first five 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, was it doesn’t hit the hole I’m looking for a 40 footer for par I had some good highs and lows on the 4 and 5 I guess that’s why you practice the short game because it’s three holes , I stole a few shots and really gained confidence.
While Rahm and Thomas were able to go down, the next best score was recorded by Harold Varner III, who finished T-3 here in 2019. This time he is third in solo after shooting 5-under 66 in his morning round. He is one of six players currently projected to move into 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 pars on his card, signing for one of the most upside down rounds of recent vintage. He became only the fourth player since 1983 to make two or fewer pars and record an equal or higher score.
Thomas, thanks to his putter, and Rahm, thanks to his ball shot – he only made four putts over 4 feet – made scoring at Liberty National easier than it was for the rest ground.
“The fact that Justin and I shot such a low score shows that it’s possible, but we both played very, very good golf,” Rahm said. “I guess he did too. I felt like I played well. »