At the P.G.A. Championship, Justin Thomas Looks for Last Year’s Magic-News

PITTSFORD, NY – Five years ago, when Justin Thomas came into the 2018 PGA Championship as the defending champion, he was still in the running as one of the top three players in the game and had a long streak as the top men’s golfer. the world.

At that time, professional golf came easily to him.

Thomas was 25 years old winner of one major tournament. This week, Thomas returned to the PGA Championship as the defending champion. But now things have changed.

Starting his victory last year at the PGA Championship in Tulsa, Okla., Thomas endured the tough, messy grind that comes with any golf game (sports or professional). He comes to Oak Hill Country Club outside Rochester, NY, having not finished in any of the 20 events he has entered since winning in 2022.

In April, he missed the cut at the Masters Tournament, his first. A month earlier, he stumbled to a 60 at the Players Championship, an event he won two years ago.

In 10 races this year, he has just two top 10 finishes and five results outside the top 20. None of this is unusual in the context of a long golf career but it didn’t help Thomas, whose father. and grandfather were professional PGA coaches and their opinions are often reflected in the game of golf.

All the while, Thomas admitted Monday that his game was so out of whack at times last year that he kept going into practice knowing, in the back of his mind, that he wouldn’t win. How must that feel to the man who was once voted the best golfer in the world?

“It’s bad,” Thomas replied. “The way I explained it for a few months is that I’ve never heard it before and being so close at the same time. It’s a difficult thing to explain, and it’s a difficult way to try to compete and win a golf tournament.

But Thomas feels like he’s been fighting his way out of golf’s darkness in recent weeks. He shot three shots at this month’s Wells Fargo Championship on the PGA Tour to finish in a tie for 14th. He has learned a new putting technique, which he said was difficult but made reading the pages easier (sounds like golf, right?). However, he sees progress with his placement.

Perhaps most importantly, he has allowed other golfers to help him, because the game can be too difficult to handle on your own.

Thomas, for example, played 18 games on Monday with Max Homa, who is now ranked sixth in the world but appeared to have ruined his chances of earning a living in golf – almost at the same time as Thomas. He was winning his first major title.

In 2017, Homa lost his chance to play on the PGA Tour after that missed the cut in 15 of 17 contests. In golf parlance, it’s called losing your tour card, which is a fancy way of saying that you’ve been kicked out of golf’s top tier for poor play.

The following year, Homa qualified for the tour again, in part by making birdies on his final four holes in a minor league golf event. Since then, Homa has won more than $21 million on the PGA Tour with two of his six wins coming in the last eight months.

On Monday, as Thomas tried to explain how he was trying to get back to the top men’s golf — and how important it was to stay positive rather than give up — he used Homa as an example.

“There’s nobody in a better position than Max Homa out here,” Thomas said. “No other top player in the world has gone through the experience of having a tourist card, losing your tourist card, making a comeback and becoming one of the best players in the world.

“I’ve talked to him about it before because he’s like, no one really knows what it’s going to be like.”

Thomas nodded. He wasn’t going to allow himself to feel too sorry for his recent downfall. He is still the 13th ranked golfer in the world. Or as he added: “Everything is relative. And it’s all about making the most of whatever experience you have.

This is how you get out of it, just by playing your way out. You hit shots when you want to and make putts when you need to, and then your confidence builds. The next thing you know, you don’t even remember what you were thinking when you were upset.”

But Thomas smiled. He is now a 30-year-old veteran, not just starting the big time at 25. He knows he has chosen a mercurial career.

“Like everything else in golf,” said Thomas, “it’s easier said than done.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *