Justin Thomas takes over top spot in FedExCup
May 02, 2021
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Justin Thomas hits 207-yard shot to 7 feet and eagles at Valspar
PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Justin Thomas struggled with his putter at the Valspar Championship, but the ball-striking was strong enough for a top-15 finish that put him atop the FedExCup standings.
Thomas, who won the FedExCup in 2017, now has a 30-point lead over Bryson DeChambeau. Thomas is trying to join Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the only two-time winners of the FedExCup. Thomas also took the lead in the Comcast Business TOUR TOP 10.
The Valspar was his 11th top-25 in 13 starts this season, including a win at THE PLAYERS Championship. He finished T13 this week after shooting four consecutive rounds of par or better (69-71-67-70).
“I'm playing some really good golf and I'm really, really close to, I feel like, getting it going here pretty good,” Thomas said. “(Moving to No. 1) is a good kind of bonus for a so-so week.”
Thomas led the field in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Approach-the-Green and Tee-to-Green. It’s the first time he’s led a tournament in all three categories. He’s the first player to accomplish that since Rory McIlroy at the 2018 BMW Championship.
“When I feel like I can kind of lay it off at the top and try to hit pull cuts -- that's what really was my thought at THE PLAYERS -- I've had a lot of good ball striking rounds doing that,” Thomas said after shooting 70 on Sunday. “My miss, I'm still getting a little stuck underneath it, but it's close. My good shots are really, really good right now and the consistency is there. I just need to see a couple putts fall.”
Thomas also led the field with three eagles this week. He started the final round with his second eagle of the week on the first hole, hitting a 206-yard approach to 7 feet.
He was third-to-last in Strokes Gained: Putting among the players who made the cut, however. He lost 6.5 strokes on the greens, the second-worst putting performance of his career. He saw some improvement over the weekend, however.
“I just was trying to focus a little bit more on speed and how far I was trying to hit it as opposed to how hard,” Thomas said. “Sometimes I get a little wrapped up in trying to maybe hit it harder instead of farther and when I do that I kind of drag the handle and that's when I hit that one to the right. That's just a tendency in my stroke. I really was just trying to focus on speed and speed I was trying to hit the putt and stay stable.”
Thomas is playing next week Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, where he won the 2017 PGA Championship, and then playing the PGA at Kiawah Island.