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Justin Thomas debuts counter-balanced putter at 3M Open

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    Written by Staff @PGATOUR

    Counter-balanced putters have helped players resurrect their careers this season and reach new heights. Elongated putters have been used to end winless droughts and claim major championships.

    Justin Thomas is the latest to hop on this season’s hottest gear trend. He debuted a counter-balanced putter Thursday in the first round of the 3M Open. It is the first time since his rookie season he is using such a club.

    “I guess it's the hot thing right now. I've always said, I mean, I'll putt with a shoe if it means I'll make everything, as long as it's a Scotty Cameron shoe. It's something I feel comfortable with,” said Thomas, who went away from the counter-balanced putter after he struggled to regulate speed in his rookie season.

    Justin Thomas debuts new counter-balanced putter at 3M Open

    It’s back in the bag now, though, and it comes as Rickie Fowler, Wyndham Clark and Keegan Bradley have all had success with counter-balanced putters this season. Bradley won for the first time in four years at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP and then claimed the Travelers Championship for his first multiple-win season since 2011.

    Rickie Fowler ended his own four-year winless drought at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and Wyndham Clark picked up the first two wins of his career, including the U.S. Open, with a putter that he had built as an exact replica of Fowler’s flatstick.

    That trio has all used counter-balanced versions of Odyssey’s Versa Jailbird. Thomas, a Titleist ambassador, is sticking with the trusted Scotty Cameron brand. He is using a prototype Phantom X9 with a 38-inch counterbalanced shaft.

    The Phantom X9 is a “near-face-balanced” mallet head with wings. The head is designed for a high moment of inertia and stability throughout the stroke, meaning it is built for players with a stroke that keeps the club more square to the line instead of rotating open and closed.

    Justin Thomas sinks a 39-foot birdie putt at 3M Open

    Counter-balanced putters are longer than the standard, putting more mass near the hands and allowing for a heavier head that permits more stability and control in the stroke.

    This isn’t Thomas’ first time experimenting with putter length. While Thomas typically uses putters of a more standard 34.5 inches, he tried out putters measuring 33.5 and 34 inches back in 2022 to get his arms hanging more comfortably at address and allow him to swing freely throughout the stroke. Now, he is going in the opposite direction.

    Thomas arrived at the 3M Open, the second-to-last event of the PGA TOUR’s Regular Season, ranked 75th in the FedExCup. Only the top 70 after next week’s Wyndham Championship will advance to the FedExCup Playoffs.

    It was a mixed debut for the putter at TPC Twin Cities. He missed a pair of birdie putts within 12 feet on his first two holes of the day and later three-putted to settle for par at the par-5 18th. His biggest highlight was a 40-footer he made for birdie on the par-4 ninth. Still, Thomas lost 1.06 strokes to field on the greens.

    Justin Thomas on using new putter after Round 1 of 3M Open

    “I think I just probably put a little bit too much pressure on myself to make some putts early,” Thomas said after a two-under 69 in his first round. “But I holed some really nice ones there on the back nine to salvage a decent round in some tough conditions.”

    Thomas, who has qualified for the past seven TOUR Championships and won the 2017 FedExCup, has not won this season and has a career-low three top-10s. He ranks 159th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

    “This is a good chance for me to learn a little bit about myself and push myself and become better,” Thomas said earlier this week. “I mean, this game, nothing's given to you. I've had great chances to win the FedExCup the last five or six years and now I'm trying to make the Playoffs. That's just the way that this sport is. And it can happen to anybody, so you've just got to go out and get it and that's what I'm going to do these last two weeks.”

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