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Justin Thomas headed to 3M Open after missed cut

5 Min Read


Justin Thomas headed to 3M Open after missed cut

    Written by Sean Martin @PGATOURSMartin

    Arriving at Royal Liverpool Golf Club’s first tee Friday, Justin Thomas’ thoughts had already drifted to the future. He was looking past the year’s final major to the consequential stretch of golf ahead. The claret jug was out of reach, that reality made certain by the 11-over 82 he shot in The Open’s first round, the latest outlier in a confounding stretch of golf that has befuddled the former FedExCup champ and his father, who doubles as his swing coach.

    Thomas committed to next week’s 3M Open on Thursday, a late addition to his schedule made necessary by the most difficult season of his pro career. His goal Friday was to begin his preparation for that tournament, one that could determine not only his FedExCup fate but also his standing on this year’s Ryder Cup team.

    “I used today as a good opportunity to get ready for next week, and I felt like I did that,” Thomas said after shooting even-par 71 on Friday. “The golf in Minnesota is obviously slightly different than here in Liverpool. But I’m hitting a lot of good shots. I’m just making so many bonehead mistakes and crazy things (are happening).

    “I’ll be fine.”

    Thomas’ opening round this week was his second consecutive round in the 80s in this year’s majors. He missed the cut after a second-round 81 in the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. But he came back a week later and shot 64-62 in the middle two rounds of the Travelers Championship to finish T9, his first top-10 since a T10 finish at the Valspar Championship in March.

    Thomas said his health is not an issue, that his wrist was only sore from hitting out of the fescue and pot bunkers so often Thursday. The larger concern were the unforced errors, which he called “9-year-old kind of stuff.”

    “There's nobody that shot 82 that hit some of the quality shots that I did yesterday. It doesn't make sense,” he said. “I'll hit shots like a No. 1 player in the world, and then I'll make a 9 on my last hole of the tournament. I don't know if it's a focus thing or I'm just putting too much pressure on myself or what it is, but when I figure it out, I'll be better for it.”

    The Open will be his fifth missed cut of the season. He has just three top-10s after never having fewer than seven in any of his nine PGA TOUR campaigns.

    Joining Thomas on the wrong side of the cut line in the year’s final major are Billy Horschel and Tony Finau, both of whom shot 73-75. They are expected to join Thomas at the 3M Open. Horschel, the 2014 FedExCup champ, is 118th in the FedExCup standings. Finau won last year’s 3M Open for the first of back-to-back wins. He also has two wins this season and ranks ninth in the FedExCup.

    Joining Thomas on the couch this weekend and missing the cut, which fell to 3-over par, were past Open champions Collin Morikawa (+4), Francesco Molinari (+6), Shane Lowry (+7), Phil Mickelson (+9), Ernie Els (+10) and John Daly (+12), as well as multiple 2023 TOUR winners such as Keegan Bradley (+4), Justin Rose (+6), Nick Taylor (+6), Sam Burns (+6), Chris Kirk (+6), Davis Riley (+6) and Si Woo Kim (+7). Among the big names to make the cut on the number were world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, 51-year-old Padraig Harrington, world No. 4 Patrick Cantlay and amateur Christo Lamprecht, who shot 79 on Friday after a 66 that gave him a share of the first-round lead.

    Thomas has now turned his sights to play back in the states. He has qualified for the TOUR Championship in each of the past seven seasons, he has never finished worse than 12th in the season-long standings during that span. That includes five top-five FedExCup finishes in the past six seasons. He also is in danger of having his first winless season since his rookie year of 2015.

    Of note this season is the fact that only 70 players will qualify for the Playoffs, and Thomas arrived at Royal Liverpool ranked 75th. The putter is quickly given the blame. He ranks 152nd in Strokes Gained: Putting. But he also is 71st in SG: Off-the-Tee after ranking in the top 30 in five of the past six seasons. And his iron play, annually among the best on TOUR, has fallen off, as well. After six consecutive seasons in the top 10 of that metric, he ranks 34th this season.

    Thomas also needs to crack the top 70 to keep alive his candidacy for this year’s Ryder Cup squad. He has represented the U.S. in each of the past five international team competitions. He is currently 13th on the U.S. points list, though. His strong partnership with Jordan Spieth – they went 4-0 at last year’s Presidents Cup -- and position as one of the United States’ catalysts surely bolster his case, but being at home while other candidates compete in the Playoffs’ deep fields would have the opposite effect.

    “As a friend and roommate, I'm concerned just because he's my buddy and I know what he's capable of,” said U.S. captain Zach Johnson. “I might be slightly concerned, like I said, as a friend, but I'm not worried about him because I know what he does, and I know what he's capable of.”

    Thomas has another opportunity to show that next week.

    Sean Martin is a senior editor for the PGA TOUR. He is a 2004 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Attending a small school gave him a heart for the underdog, which is why he enjoys telling stories of golf's lesser-known players. Follow Sean Martin on Twitter.

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