Tough talk spurs team Thomas
August 04, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Justin Thomas' Round 3 highlights from Bridgestone
AKRON, Ohio – FedExCup champion Justin Thomas uttered those fateful words … we need to talk.
He was talking to his father Mike – his lifetime confidant and coach – plus his caddie Jimmy Johnson.
Disappointed with his recent results leading into the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational Thomas felt it was time for an all-important chat.
Despite two wins this season and second place in the current FedExCup standings Thomas has just one top-10 in the last four months.
Not good enough in the eyes of the eight-time TOUR winner.
“We had a big talk on Tuesday just to make sure everybody on the team was doing what they needed to do for us to play our best,” Thomas revealed after shooting 3-under 67 to move to 14 under and three shot lead through 54 holes.
“That's myself included. I asked them if I need to practice anything better… if they didn't see maybe hard enough effort from me, if my attitude wasn't as good as it could be.
“But also I said the same to my dad. I'm like, hey, dad, I need you to do some of these things, and Jimmy, I need you to step in a little bit more.”
Thomas said their recent failure to make the cut at The Open Championship had worn hard and thrown up some learning moments, particularly for he and his bagman.
“They were tough, but we learned from them. I rely on him a lot,” Thomas admitted.
“He's a huge, huge part of this team. He's the other half of me. And he's been great this week. I told him that on 18 that he did a great job today.”
Another huge part of the team – at least in motivation - is Thomas’ grandfather Paul.
A former PGA professional Paul actually played in the 1960 PGA Championship at Firestone Country Club, shooting 79-72-80 to miss the 54-hole cut.
And he found his way back to the venue this week – looking to be present at a Thomas PGA TOUR win for the first time.
“He cracks me up. He just showed up on the range today. I have no idea how he got in. I don't know how he got a seat. He's just sitting there on the range,” Thomas grinned.
“He had ice cream and a Dr. Pepper for breakfast before I played yesterday and the Kisner and Chappell kids were all mad because they couldn't have ice cream for breakfast.
“He's just awesome. I love spending time with my grandma and grandpa. They crack me up just listening to them talk. So it's cool having them here and it would be really, really special to win with them here.”
McILROY KEEPS TINKERING ... Rory McIlroy’s current swing has been good enough to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard this year and it has helped him into second place through three rounds at Firestone South. But the former FedExCup champion says it is yet to be in the same stratosphere as the 2014 version where he last won the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational in the middle of a two major, one WGC winning streak. “The hands have been going away from me and the club's been getting behind me and sort of flat and shoulder plane's been getting flat,” McIlroy, who will start three shots back of Justin Thomas’ lead said. “I’m trying to get it back to sort of setting it upright so then I can use my lower body to shallow the club on the way down. I've been working on it all year. It's a bad habit that I got into sort of at the end of 2015 so it's been there for a couple years, even more, and I'm just trying to get it back to where I sort of want to swing it. It's not going to happen overnight, it's a continuous process to try to get back there. But I've been working on it and working on it. It's feeling a little more comfortable and the positions are getting a little better, but I still have a little bit of work to do."
POULTER CHASING MORE WGC BLING ... Ian Poulter has already won two of the four World Golf Championships but has a serious hankering to get three quarters of the way to the WGC Slam. Poulter won the 2010 World Golf Championships – Dell Technologies Match Play and the 2012 World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions. He now has the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational in his sights after his third round 70 left him tied for second at 11 under, three shots back of leader Justin Thomas. “Three out of four would be amazing. I'm going to need some inspiration from Thursday, going clean, not making any mistakes and just have some fun,” Poulter said. “I'm in a great position, I'm enjoying my golf. It's great being up that end of the leaderboard.”
DAY DIALS IN APPROACH ... All year Jason Day has been hearing how poorly he ranks in his approach game. While his driving has been solid (ranked 33rd on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee) and his chipping and putting has been first class (ranked 1st on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and Strokes Gained: Putting) Day sits a lowly 166th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green. But not this week. As plenty of amateur golfers can attest, when you get one thing right the others tend to slip. Day is second in approach stats, currently gaining 5.926 strokes on the field. His best performance prior this season was gaining just 0.518 strokes at the Travelers Championship. But the tradeoff is more missed fairways and less made putts at Firestone. So he went for the practice facilities after a third round 69 has him 10 under and four shots back in fourth place. “When my speed is off (putting), that's a little concerning to me, but I'm going to go and work on it, hit some balls on the range, work on my speed and see how it goes,” he said.
FIRESTONE FAIRYTALE UNLIKELY FOR WOODS ... Tiger Woods will need a miracle to take his Firestone South win tally to nine after a tough third round took the 79-time PGA TOUR winner out of serious contention. The eight-time World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational champion shot a 3-over 73 to drop back to 3 under and a tie for 28th. The biggest final round comeback in PGA TOUR history is 10 shots meaning Woods would need to set a new mark as he’s 11 adrift of Justin Thomas. “Just played like crap,” he said. “I didn't feel like I was in control of the golf ball today.”
Rory McIlroy's Round 3 highlights from Bridgestone
RICKIE FOWLER – An impressive 65 saw Fowler make some big moves up the board. He sits at 8-under T7.
DUSTIN JOHNSON – The FedExCup leader shook off the RBC Canadian Open winning rust with a nice 66. At 4-under T22 he is very unlikely to win back-to-back weeks.
TOMMY FLEETWOOD – Part of a three-way tie after 36 holes the Englishman had a day to forget with a 4-over 74. He now sits seven shots back and T9.
MARC LEISHMAN – The Australian is looking for an emotional victory for good friend Jarrod Lyle. Rounds of 65-69-67 have him T5 at 9 under, five shots back.
Marc Leishman’s lengthy birdie putt on No. 6 at Bridgestone
QUOTABLESWould be great to get the first win of the season and my first WGC, but we've got some serious work to do tomorrow.Made four bogeys today ... It would be nice not to have them tomorrow.I finished second way too many times this year ... I'm getting a little sick of the second places.
Low round - 65, Rickie Fowler
Long drive - 402 yards, Brooks Koepka, 16th hole
Long putt - 55 feet, 7 inches by Kyle Stanley, 1st hole
Toughest hole - Par-4 4th played to a 4.324 average
Easiest hole - Par-5 2nd played to a 4.310 average
CALL OF THE DAY
For play-by-play coverage of the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, listen at PGATOUR.COM.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Justin Thomas' clutch chip in for Shot of the Day