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The Thomas train: When to ride with Justin Thomas again

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The Thomas train: When to ride with Justin Thomas again

    Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet

    The most eye-catching part of the start of the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Fall isn’t Max Homa going for an awesome three-peat, but instead it’s his Ryder Cup teammate Justin Thomas suiting up after a rough 2023 FedExCup season.

    Having missed out on the FedExCup Playoffs, Thomas needs starts in the fall to help regain some form ahead of next season and to perhaps quiet those calling his spot in Rome a controversial selection.

    Having been part of a U.S. Team scouting trip to Italy this past weekend, both Homa and Thomas will be hoping jetlag is not an issue at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa.

    The possibility of that hasn’t stopped oddsmakers at BetMGM Sportsbook installing Homa the +750 favorite and Thomas next in line at +1400. But while Homa deserves his status atop the betting board, does Thomas?

    Should we be contemplating jumping on the Thomas train at these odds when the form, quite frankly, doesn’t warrant it?

    This brings up a common conundrum in golf betting. Certain top-level players, despite possible form slumps they suffer, remain higher on the odds boards than perhaps they should be. When it comes to handicapping (and setting the odds), reputation counts. Talent, however hidden it might be leading in, counts.

    Now we’ve heard all sorts of speculation around Thomas and his game that clearly wasn’t at its best in the earlier parts of 2023. His swing changes… spending less time with his father as swing coach… subsequently denying that report… changing putting coaches… they have all been part of the recent news cycle.

    Despite his issues, I for one am very confident Thomas will indeed bounce back and rid himself of this “slump” at some point. Much like his friends Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler have done recently, Thomas is too good a player for this not to happen.

    But I’m not ready to say it will happen at Silverado Resort’s North Course this week.

    In preparation for this column, I scanned the opinions of the wider Golfbet crew to find out if anyone would theoretically “buy” Thomas stock this week at his +1400 price. There wasn’t one taker. In fact, the quick survey saw a range from +2200 to +5000 as the number needed to bring interest in the outright market.

    But there he sits as second favorite based on his reputation as a 15-time PGA TOUR winner, including as a two-time major winner, a former PLAYERS Champion and a former FedExCup winner.

    Here are the statistical facts you should know before making a call on Thomas. Simply compare his 2022 stats against 2023. In most major categories he has gone backwards with only moderate gains in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and driving accuracy.

    Category2023 Stat2023 Rank2022 Stat2022 Rank
    SG: Off-the-Tee0.18959th 0.53816th
    SG: Approach0.32443rd0.6968th
    SG: Around Green0.424th0.35515th
    SG: Putting-0.222137th0.09185th
    SG: Tee to Green0.93319th1.5893rd
    SG: Total0.71132nd1.684th
    Driving Distance30838th314.314th
    Driving Accuracy56.24%132nd54.78%167th
    Sand Saves49.04%111th62.71%8th
    Scoring Average70.59866th69.4934th

    These raw numbers make it nearly impossible to advocate for investment. Add the fact Thomas has all the outside noise to contend with ahead of preparations for the Ryder Cup and you are best looking elsewhere.

    With all of that being said, the question remains: When do you get back on the Thomas train as a bettor or fantasy gamer?

    I couldn’t help but think of the classic kids’ television show "Thomas and Friends" in this context, particularly as where the show originated – in the U.K. – the original title was "Thomas the Tank Engine."

    You see, Thomas has been more of a “tank engine” in the U.S. sense this season but I believe, with the help from his “friends” at the Ryder Cup, he will begin his turnaround.

    In 2009, Adam Scott was having a season much like Thomas just experienced, yet he was controversially called into the International Presidents Cup team as a captain’s pick. And while Scott was only able to muster a 1-4-0 record at Harding Park that year as the Internationals fell to the U.S. Team, it was the confidence garnered by being chosen at all, and the boosts from his peers, that saw him win five times in the next five seasons, including the Masters, and spending time as world No.1.

    Thomas will tread a similar path. While Silverado won’t be the start of the Thomas turnaround, the Ryder Cup will be. And as such, now is not the time to invest – but sometime in the new year instead could be the moment to buy back in.

    He was +3300 at the Wyndham Championship and +6600 ahead of The Open Championship in two of his more recent prior starts. Only consider being part of the resurgence if his numbers fall in this zone, or higher.

    For now? Let the train pass.

    September is Responsible Gaming Education Month. If you bet, set a budget and play within your means. To learn more, visit

    Senior Writer, Golfbet Follow Ben Everill on Twitter.

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