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Equipment Report
  • EQUIPMENT

    Justin Thomas makes putter switch before Open Championship

  • Justin Thomas with his new Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5 Tour prototype putter. (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)Justin Thomas with his new Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5 Tour prototype putter. (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

A significant change helped Justin Thomas have success in his last start before The Open Championship.

Thomas was one of several big names to play the Scottish Open in preparation for this week’s major at Royal St. George’s. He has struggled on the links in his career, but he finished T8 in Scotland for his first top-10 since winning THE PLAYERS Championship in March. A T11 in the 2019 Open Championship is his lone top-50 in four appearances in The Open Championship.

At the Scottish Open, he swapped out his Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 putter for a new Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5 Tour prototype featuring what the company calls a "knuckle neck."

The change comes after an inconsistent period on the greens for Thomas, who ranks 107th in Strokes Gained: Putting this season. In fact, Thomas has ranked outside the top 100 in that statistic in each of the past three seasons.

The new flatstick came together after a recent trip to the Scotty Cameron Putter Studio in Encinitas, California. It combines a Phantom X 5.5 head, which is a similar head shape to his previous Futura X5 model, with a prototype knuckle neck akin to a Scotty Cameron Newport 2. The knuckle neck is Scotty Cameron’s version of the traditional plumber’s neck design. The knuckle neck is more rounded than the flat plumber’s neck golfers are accustomed to seeing, but it also features one shaft width of offset for ease of alignment.

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A close up of the "knuckle neck" used on Thomas' putter. (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

According to Scotty Cameron TOUR rep Drew Page, after adjusting the neck lengths, Thomas was able to find a more consistent stroke pattern with his new gamer.

“JT’s had incredible success the last five years with his Futura X5.5 ... but he had been thinking lately about experimenting with a slightly different look,” Page said. “We took the Phantom X 5 head shape he loves and gave it a Newport 2-style neck which he’s also used in the past. He tested it at a few different neck lengths and was able to find a setup that was giving him a more consistent stroke pattern with that little bit different visual and the same feel that he’s used to.”

Thomas, who used a blade-style putter early in his career, had been using his Phantom X 5.5, which features a high-MOI (moment of inertia, a measure of a club’s resistance to twisting) wingback Phantom X design paired with a welded small slant neck to promote an arced putting stroke more commonly associated with blade designs.

The new knuckle-necked Phantom X 5.5 features slightly less toe hang than his previous gamer and worked effectively in Scotland where Thomas putted well on his way to his first top-10 finish in four months. For reference, toe hang is a toe-weighted or toe-balanced putters. A putter with more toe hang is better suited to an arcing stroke, whereas a face-balanced putter works better for a straight-back, straight-through motion.