Justin Thomas was having a terrific day on the course, but his putts weren’t falling. After an even-par front nine to begin his Valspar Championship, Thomas’ caddie, Jim “Bones” MacKay, advised him to be “patient” and it would be worth the wait.
It began with a birdie on No. 11 and culminated with a monster eagle on the par-5 14th, where he drove his approach shot 273 yards over the river and woods to the green and then sank a 64-foot left-to-right putt.
“It came after a fantastic drive and a fantastic 3-wood. I hit those two shots exactly as I had envisioned them “Thomas, who is tied for ninth after a 5-under 66 first round, said. “You’re just trying to get the speed correct, so it’s evident it’s not one I’m trying to make. When you have those enormous breaks like that, I’d say it’s sort of a feeder if you can get the speed correct. At least a lot of very, really excellent putters, or just good players, will tell you that if you get the speed right, it kind of finds the fall line.”
273 yards to green 💥
64 feet for eagle ⤵️
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 17, 2022
Thomas, on the other hand, had a fantastic encore. He birdied the par-3 15th and par-4 16th holes with a 9-iron approach shot from 151 yards out that landed just over a foot from the hole.
However, Innisbrook’s greens have Thomas two shots behind a four-way tie for the lead after he concluded the opening round 117th in strokes gained: putting.
“I did a fantastic job. I drove the ball wonderfully, hit a number of really excellent iron shots, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a round where I missed so many good putts “Thomas stated his opinion. “These greens are difficult to discern since the grain is so faint and can go in a variety of directions. They do an excellent job with pin placement, putting them in little, subtle areas where they may stop breaking when they reach the hole or whatever. And wow, I shot a lot of really, really excellent putts today. I mean, probably five, six, seven putts that could have easily gone in that didn’t.”
Despite missing five putts from within 15 feet on the front nine and two from inside 10 feet on the back nine, the 14-time PGA Tour champion stated he “putted well” and didn’t feel compelled to visit the putting green after his round. Golf is a strange game at times, and Thomas will adhere to his gameplan in Round 2 in the hopes of winning for the first time since the 2021 Players Championship.
“I’m playing with Kevin Kisner, one of the finest putters in the world, and he’s a little perplexed on some putts, too,” he remarked. “That just goes to show you, it’s not — it’s a silly game we play from time to time. I made a 64-footer after a series of fantastic putts inside of 12 feet that scorched the edge and didn’t go in. So it doesn’t always make sense.”