Justin Thomas ready for Sunday chase at World Wide Technology ChampionshipExtra prep from new full-time caddie Jim 'Bones' Mackay paying off through three rounds at Maykoba
November 06, 2021
By Adam Stanley , PGATOUR.COM
Justin Thomas’ Round 3 highlights from World Wide Technology
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico – Justin Thomas isn’t quite sure when caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay arrived at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, but when it was suggested that it was Sunday – in order to get an extra day of preparation in – the former FedExCup champion said with a smile that sounded about right.
The extra prep has helped Thomas through three rounds at El Camaleón Golf Club. He sits at 16 under, just three shots back of the lead held by Viktor Hovland.
He’ll be in the penultimate group on Sunday with Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz.
Ortiz and Thomas have some history, as they both played in the 2012 World Amateur Championship. Team USA won that week, but the Mexican squad finished runner-up, just five shots back.
Thomas, who won THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this year, classified his game in 2021 as “C at best, C-minus” even going so far as saying, “it has not been a very good year at all.”
But a win Sunday in Mexico would go a long way to help change how he’s felt about 2021 overall – and some credit, at least according to Thomas, should go to MacKay.
With each passing week, Thomas said, Mackay is getting more comfortable with the kind of shots he hits.
“This is a new season. Completely different. Especially with (Mackay) it kind of feels like it’s a new start,” said Thomas after shooting a 7-under 64 on Saturday.
Mackay filled in for Thomas’ previous caddie, Jimmy Johnson, on occasion (even winning together once before at the 2020 World Golf Championship-FedEx St. Jude Invitational). The pair made things official at the end of September. Johnson caddied for Thomas for six years.
“I think the more rounds we have and the more times that we play and spend time on the golf course, he’s getting used to that to where he feels more comfortable, maybe, stating his opinion, if you will,” said Thomas of their new relationship, which is all of two months old.
Thomas admitted to wasting a few scoring opportunities in the third round at Mayakoba, but overall was pleased with his bogey-free effort. The speed of his lag putting has been a weakness, having notched a few “sloppy” three-putts through 54 holes.
He said he drove it much better on Saturday than at any other point during the week. If he does more of that in Sunday’s finale, that should help give him plenty of chances, he said, to overtake Hovland.
Hovland, who has had a turbulent week highlighted by a last-minute driver switch, shot a 9-under 62 in the third round – a career low. Hovland’s playing competitor on Saturday, Anirban Lahiri, said the Norwegian “could have shot 59” if he got a few more putts to fall.
“I got max out of my game, essentially,” said Hovland. “Obviously got off to a nice start and it was nice to have one of those rounds where you can keep it going throughout the day.”
If Hovland does go on to win Sunday he’ll become the first back-to-back winner in this event’s history and the first repeat winner on TOUR since Brooks Koepka’s back-to-back PGA Championships in 2018 and 2019.
Still, Hovland said knowing Thomas is chasing him will be a stout challenge – especially given Thomas’ effort over the last 41 holes. JT started 3-over-par through nine holes and was in last place at one point Thursday, but now he’ll enter Sunday playing in the final group looking for his 15th PGA TOUR title and second with Mackay on the bag.
“It was obviously impressive for him to fight back and to be in the spot that he’s in coming into tomorrow,” said Hovland. “He’s a great player and I don’t expect anything else from him but to play well tomorrow. I’m going to have to play some of my better golf to have a shot.”
Viktor Hovland’s Round 3 highlights from World Wide Technology