Thomas perfect during fortnight in Hawaii
January 16, 2017
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Justin Thomas news conference after winning Sony OpenFollowing his victory in the 2017 Sony Open in Hawaii, Justin Thomas reflects on his record-setting weekend and the building confidence each week is adding.
HONOLULU, Hawaii – Notes and observations from Sunday’s final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii, where Justin Thomas took down the PGA TOUR scoring record and claimed back-to-back wins in the Aloha state.
For more from Waialae Country Club check out the Daily Wrap-up.
THOMAS TAKING IT TO A NEW LEVEL
To borrow a line from 70s Canadian rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive, when it comes to Justin Thomas: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Thomas overtook top spot in the FedExCup with his third PGA TOUR victory of the season - and second win in as many weeks - with his sublime seven-shot demolition at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
His closing 5-under 65 capped off a sensational week with the new TOUR 72-hole scoring record of 253, besting Tommy Armour III’s mark of 254 from the 2003 Valero Texas Open.
Among multiple other accolades were becoming the youngest player in TOUR history to shoot 59 and joining Ernie Els (2003) as players to have won both events in the Hawaii swing in the same year.
Thomas has stamped himself as the man to catch in 2017 – and he is far from done.
Midway through the tournament Thomas warned the world had not seen his best and going forward he still expects improvement.
“I expect to be in contention every time I play,” he said post win.
He has pinpointed further improvement on his driving accuracy - already a big part of his recent charge - and his pitching and putting as a focus.
“If I can bring my average bogeys around down three-quarters to a whole bogey per round, I think this year could be pretty dangerous,” he said ominously.
For Thomas, the key to making it happen is to stay in his own bubble at times.
“Just blocking out everything, a lot of the things I hear,” he says of his plan to stay on top.
“Looking at guys like Rory (McIlroy) or Jordan (Spieth), Jason Day, they go out there and they finish 10th a couple of events in a row and then finish 20th, everyone is like what's wrong with them.
“I don't know if I'm to that point yet... but that's the kind of stuff you've just got to block out.
“I've always expected this of myself. It just hasn't happened yet. Now that it's happening, I continue to have the same expectations. I just need to continue to put the work in and just be ready every time I tee it up.”
The 23-year-old blocked out the negatives on Sunday at Waialae, claiming his nerves pre-round were as intense as they’ve ever been given the chatter he’d been exposed to.
From the moment he left the 18th green on Saturday it was well known no one had ever blown a seven-shot lead on TOUR with a round to go and Thomas could feel the heat of perhaps creating the wrong type of history.
He woke at 6:30am, well in advance of his 12:40pm tee time, and had to force himself off social media with a few hours to go just to escape.
“A lot of things go through your head,” he said.
“I couldn't look at Twitter anymore. It was just like, no one has ever lost a seven-shot lead, no one has ever lost a seven-shot lead.
“I just tried to block out what I kept hearing in my head. All morning it was tough to keep my mind off things.”
Now his sights are once again set forward as he jumps to eighth in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I'm so, so excited for the Masters. I love that course,” he said of the season opening major.
“I’m a lot more confident going into it this year. I understand it's a couple of months away and who knows where my game will be at but just mentally and me as a person and a golfer, I'm excited for the rest of the year.”
Justin Thomas completes the Hawaiian swing at Sony
ROSE WINS “OTHER” TOURNAMENT
Justin Rose may have finished a distant seven shots back of winner Justin Thomas but the Englishman claimed a minor victory when his birdie on the last left him in second alone.
Rose, and it turns out many others in the field, had set their sights on being the next best guy as Thomas went about his record setting performance.
In his first start since withdrawing from the Hero World Challenge with a back injury, Rose shot 66-64-66-64 to wind up at 20-under.
His score would have been good enough to win, or have a chance to win, 17 of the last 20 Sony Opens.
“I won the other competition this week, so I take a little bit of credit from that because he's (Thomas) obviously incredibly hot right now,” Rose said after signing his card.
“Coming down the stretch, we were playing for second. I turned it on and went through a couple of gears there.
“Birdieing three of the last four to win second was exactly what the day was all about for me. I take confidence in that, that I pulled out some good shots when I needed to.
“I think there's a lot of positives for me and a lot of things to work on too. Exactly what I wanted to do first week of the year, gauge where I'm at and it's nice to know that I'm not far away.”
Rose expects his next start to come at the Farmers Insurance Open in two weeks at Torrey Pines.
PUTTER RETURNS FOR SPIETH
Jordan Spieth rode a hot putter to shoot up the leaderboard on Sunday for the second week in a row, posting a 7-under 63 to rocket up to third place.
Having struggled with his putter in the opening three rounds at Waialae Spieth actively tried to change things up Sunday, and it worked.
The eight-time TOUR winner made just 56 feet, 4 inches of putts Thursday, 66 feet, 9 inches on Friday and 50 feet, 1 inch on Saturday leaving him languishing in the Strokes Gained: Putting stakes.
But he took it up a notch Sunday, making 139 feet, 9 inches of putts to get himself back into respectable territory.
Spieth felt like he was hitting the ball early, or low on the face, so he moved the ball back in his stance and turned his right toe a little open.
“I think the right toe open was to get my brain off of my stroke,” he explained.
“I just wanted to try it. On No. 1, the first one goes in from a good range where I felt like I hit my line and sometimes that's all you need is one to go.
“I made a lot of putts today. I got to even on my Strokes Gained: Putting for the week when before I was losing a stroke and a half per round so that's something like four and a half strokes gained just on today's round.
“Still not the best putting week overall, but a tremendous day today and I have plenty of time to work on it before we play next.”
CALL OF THE DAY
REAVIE REVS UP
Chez Reavie made the turn in 7-under 28 at Waialae Country Club on Sunday but he wasn’t thinking about shooting 59 - instead the 2008 RBC Canadian Open winner had a record 57 in his crosshairs.
Jim Furyk set the new bar of 58 last season at the Travelers Championship and Reavie entertained setting a new benchmark, especially after he made birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes (his 11th and 12th) to sit 9-under with six to play.
Earlier he had aced the 17th hole with a 6-iron from 189 yards to get the roll going.
“I was definitely starting to count my chickens there,” he revealed post round.
Unfortunately a bogey on the par-4 6th wiped out his hopes and he settled for an impressive 9-under 61, leaping up into a T8 finish at 16-under.
“I was trying to get it to 20 under, to be honest with you. When I got it to 16 through 11 holes, I was trying to shoot as low as I could,” Reavie added.
“Obviously it's tough. It's tricky with some of those pin locations. The greens are tough to read. But I was making putts. I was trying to give myself as many looks as I could.”
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Chez Reavie fires off an ace for the Shot of the Day