Aug. 1—GREENSBORO — Normally in his career, Justin Thomas has skipped the Wyndham Championship, using the week to take a break before the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
This year is different. Thomas, enduring a disappointing season, doesn’t have that luxury this year because he doesn’t know if he will be in the playoffs.
And so, he was at Sedgefield Country Club on Tuesday practicing and meeting media obligations before making his fourth start ever in the Wyndham Championship.
Thomas hasn’t won since last year’s PGA Championship, missed his sixth cut of the year at the 3M Open and sits 79th, 48 points out of 70th, the minimum position he needs to reach the playoffs and continue his season in a quest to impress Zach Johnson enough to earn a captain’s pick onto the Ryder Cup team.
“There’s just guys that have played better than me this season whether they’re ranked 1st in the world or 101st in the world,” Thomas said. “But now I have an opportunity to play well this week, get into the playoffs and to go to three courses that I love. . .I have a chance to have one of the craziest endings to a PGA Tour season, and I’m going to try to do that.
Thomas, who has 15 Tour wins and is ranked 26th in the world, is shying away from his situation.
“I’m excited. I think it’s an unbelievable opportunity. I’m enjoying it,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to go out and play the best that I can and try to see if we can get in contention to try to win a golf tournament and see if we can get on a little run to end the season.”
Thomas has missed the cut in five of his last seven starts and his other two finishes over that span were a ninth and a tie for 60th. His last finish inside the top five was a fourth at the Phoenix Open in February. He lost four spots in the point standings because he missed last week’s cut.
Despite the struggles, Thomas believes he isn’t playing poorly.
“I haven’t really gotten much out of my rounds,” Thomas said. “You know, like on Friday last week at 3M, I had two swings that literally cost me five strokes on Friday. If those swings go how they normally do in any other situation, you know, I’m like 15th heading into the weekend instead of missing the cut. It’s just been kind of one of those seasons, I guess, if you will.”
He isn’t the only notable name trying to crack the top 70 this week. Also on the outside are two-time major winner Johnson, former British Open champ Shan Lowry, former Masters champs Adam Scott and Danny Willett, former U.S. Open champs Gary Woodland and Lucas Glover and former PGA champ Jimmy Walker.
At the minimum, Thomas needs to finish at least 18th to have a chance of making the playoffs.
He doesn’t have any expectations for the weekend.
“I feel like I’m going to play well this week,” Thomas said. “I’ve also felt like I was going to play well at the U.S. Open and I finished what I felt was about last place. That’s also part of golf, you just don’t know what you’re going to get. One thing I definitely have learned is you need to be in the right headspace and expect some good things to happen and at least that’s where I’m at, so we’ll see.”
He’s trying to start his comeback at the course where he made his PGA cut, as an amateur, 14 years ago. He shot 65 in the first round, 72 in the next but a 71 in the third round left him outside a cut for Sunday. In his two Sedgefield starts as a professional, he tied for 56th in 2015 and missed the cut in 2016.
“I love this golf course,” Thomas said. It’s very old school. It has some similarities or feels of probably more so just because of the grass, but of like a Memphis or an East Lake, two places that I love and I’ve played well. But if you hit the fairways, you can make a lot of birdies out here, but if you miss the fairways, you’re grinding. “