Thomas, Scott struggle in windy final round
February 17, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – For the early part of Sunday, former FedExCup champion Justin Thomas was rectifying his Hollywood script.
Having lost to Jordan Spieth during the 2012 NCAA National Championship final at Riviera Country Club, Thomas has gotten frequent reminders - and pictures - sent his way from his friend reminding him of the fact.
However, through 54-holes of the Genesis Open the horror story was turning into a love story in Los Angeles for Thomas who no doubt would be sending trophy pictures back to Spieth in the future.
After the first 15 holes of a marathon 33-hole day Thomas led by four and had the tournament scoring record in his grasp as he began the final round.
And then Riviera gnashed its teeth, thanks to a combination of cold temperatures and brisk winds.
The mercury hit as low as 45 degrees during play with wind gusts peaking around 34mph in the afternoon.
It turned the Genesis Open into a battle of wills and in the end, it was J.B. Holmes who negotiated it best.
Holmes started the final round four shots back of Thomas but dug out a 1-under 70.
Against Thomas’ 75 it was enough for a gutsy one-shot win.
But the difficulty was not Thomas’ alone.
Adam Scott, the other player in the final group, shot 76.
Spieth incidentally shot a staggering 10-over 81 which included a quadruple bogey on the infamous par-4 10th hole.
The final round scoring average was over par, the only round of the week to be so.
While high winds usually cause havoc on ball flight, it was the effect on the putting surfaces that brought many undone.
At one-point Thomas four-putted for a double bogey, the last three putts were inside 8 feet and the final miss was from 2 feet.
Afterwards he was clearly dejected and lamented it being “a bummer to hand (Holmes) a tournament.”
“I really struggled putting in that wind out there. It's something that I've needed to get better at and it unfortunately just kind of showed a flaw in my game,” Thomas said.
“Two three-putts and a four-putt on my back nine. The third putt on 13, it's just I've got to stop doing that.
“I could feel the wind coming and I got scared so I tried to hit it harder, and I did hit it harder and that's why I missed it, I jammed it. That's not the speed that I hit putts at when I'm putting well.
“Every time I miss a short putt, it's from that similar kind of scenario where I feel something when I'm over it and I either don't back off or I try to adjust over it. It ended up costing me the golf tournament.”
Holmes himself had two bad three-putts for bogey on the back nine par-5s.
Scott missed five putts from inside 9 feet over a five-hole span to throw away his chances and finish seventh.
“It's hard to tell you how extreme it is,” Scott said afterward.
“It was very difficult. You just have to kind of be on with everything and the last 10, 11 holes, I drove it poorly and I putted poorly. It's easy to bleed shots then and that's what I did.”
Tournament host Tiger Woods was another to feel the effects.
At one point he forged his way into the top five on Sunday. But four late bogeys dropped the 80-time PGA TOUR winner to 15th.
“The weather, the long days and just the temperature, trying to be focused for long, long periods of time, it took a toll on a lot of us out there today,” Woods said.
The toll will be felt harder by Thomas now, especially when the next picture from Spieth pops up on his phone.