Justin Thomas is almost out of time.
The two-time major winner was a late addition to the 3M Open, adding the Minnesota tour stop and next week’s regular-season finale at the Wyndham Championship to his schedule in hopes of earning his way into the FedEx Cup and supporting his case for Ryder Cup inclusion. Unfortunately for Thomas, his year-long struggles continued, as an even-par 71 on Friday ends his week early at TPC Twin Cities.
At times, Thomas looked like the Thomas of old, racking up six birdies in Round 2, four of which came on his final five holes. But he continues to be unable to keep the big numbers at bay, making two double-bogeys, including a seven at the par-5 18th (his ninth), where Thomas put two balls in the water. A switch to a new counterbalanced putter failed to produce dividends, as Thomas lost strokes to the field on the greens.
Thomas finished 36 holes at two-under, and with only six players left to complete the rain-delayed third round, he was going to miss the cut that came at four-under. It was the fourth time in Thomas’ last five rounds that he failed to break par and threatens to be his fifth missed cut in his last seven starts.
Thomas will have one more chance to make the PGA Tour’s post-season, needing a strong finish at the Wyndham to earn a playoff spot among the top 70. He went into the weekend at No. 75. His spot on the Ryder Cup team is more ambiguous. Certainly, his recent form would suggest he doesn’t warrant a spot on the playing roster. Conversely, Thomas has emerged as the heart and soul of Team USA. He embraces the pressure, engages the crowd and, occasionally, enrages his opponents. Thomas has scored a whopping 17.5 points for the Americans across two Ryder Cups and three Presidents Cups.
Should he win or grab a runner-up at the Wyndham, Thomas will get at least two more weeks of an audition in the playoffs. But his season, and his chances to play in Rome, are essentially down to two rounds.
Other takeaways from Friday’s weather-delayed action at the 3M Open.
Visit to friend’s garage pays off for Streelman
It’s been a bit of a rough go for Kevin Streelman in 2023, entering the week 120th in the FedEx Cup standings. But the 44-year-old is off to an auspicious start at the 3M Open, co-owning the clubhouse lead at 10-under with the afternoon wave set to finish their rounds Saturday morning.
According to Streelman, what got him turned around in the right direction this week was a visit to his friend and coach Jake Thurm’s garage.
“He’s got all this 3-D technology. You get in this high-tech suit with all these flashing lights all over the place,” Streelman said after a Friday 68. “I had noticed my hips and my shoulders were pretty square to my target, but my rib cage was actually like 20 degrees open — like it’s something you couldn’t see with 2-D in video. Now, all of a sudden, I’m able to feel that rotation and on both sides of the ball.”
Streelman isn’t joking, ranking fifth in driving accuracy and 14th in strokes gained/off-the-tee through 36 holes. Streelman would likely need a win or runner-up this week to move into the postseason, but he’s in good position to make such a weekend move. Still, it doesn’t sound like Streelman minds the pressure that comes with the position.
“We’ve played enough of these tournaments crazy things can happen any one week. Just kind of staying patient and if an opportunity comes, you’ve got to try and grab it,” Streelman said. “But if not, you just try and get better for the next week and prepare to try and make it happen the next week. It’s what I love about our sport, too. I think it would be depressing to be on a bad baseball team and like at the end of the season, you know you can’t get to the playoffs.
“Like Jim Herman a few years ago missed most of the cuts of the year and then he goes and wins the Wyndham. That’s such a cool story and such a cool part of our game that makes us different. Feel fortunate to be able to do that.”
Poston posts consecutive 66s
JT Poston enters the final two weeks on the FedEx Cup bubble, ranking 60th in the standings. He’s off to a good start in Minneapolis to move off the bubble and safely into the post-season.
Poston backed up an opening 66 with another 66 on Friday, grabbing the clubhouse lead with Streelman.
“Game’s just been solid overall,” Poston said. “I think yesterday the putter was kind of the difference maker. It was playing pretty tough with the wind that we had in the afternoon and I just had one of those days where I felt like I couldn’t miss, so it was a good time to do that. Today was just really solid I felt like. Obviously, bogey free, which is nice. Yeah, game just feels like it’s in a good place.”
Poston is doing what he’s doing thanks to a hot short game, gaining nearly five shots over the field on the greens. It continues a strong showing from Poston that dates back nearly a month.
“A few weeks ago I was 85th [in the standings], so I was trying to just string together some good weeks,” Poston explained. “Played really well at the John Deere, played well again at Scottish and had a decent week last week at the Open. So just kind of been riding a nice wave of momentum of good golf.”
Young fails to advance to weekend
Earlier this week US Ryder Cup vice captain Fred Couples said Cameron Young was a lock for the American roster. Perhaps that will assuage Young’s quick exit from the Twin Cities.
Young, the highest ranked player in the 3M Open field, will miss the cut after a 71-69 showing.
Young was coming off a T-8 at the Open, where he played in the final pairing with eventual champion Brian Harman, and had a T-6 at his previous start at the John Deere Classic. However, it’s been a bit of a rocky sophomore campaign for Young, who will now have some work to do in the playoffs to advance to the second and third rounds. He entered the week at 41st in the FedEx standings, and the top 50 after the St. Jude make it to the BMW Championship.
Joining Young in missing the weekend was Joel Dahmen, who will need a good performance at the Wyndham Classic to break into playoffs after entering the week at 81st. Former US Open champ Gary Woodland also missed the cut.