Justin Thomas has proven himself to be a match-play monster at the Ryder and Presidents Cups, which is why it’s a surprise that the two-time PGA Championship winner is skipping next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play event.
Thomas is one of just two eligible players who is skipping the final WGC contest next week at Austin Country Club. Speaking to the press at the Valspar Championship, Thomas cited his love for the Valspar venue, Innisbrook, while noting he never has felt the same way towards Austin CC.
“[Innisbrook] is a place I love. I really, really love the golf course. I just I feel like I have a really good chance to win there if I go play. I just, I simply don’t feel that way about Austin Country Club,” Thomas said. “It’s nothing against the course; I’ve just, I’ve played it six times and I’ve played it really bad five of them.
“So, I just felt like it was a better decision for me to go to a place where I at least had some positivity and felt like I had a lot better chance to win than going to an elevated event, a huge event, being the Match Play, but knowing that I’ve had no success except for kind of — I would hate to call it a fluke year, but one year. And I didn’t really want to take three weeks off before the Masters.”
Certainly there is an odd symmetry between Thomas’ Team USA record — he has scored an impressive 17.5 points for the Americans across two Ryder Cups and three Presidents Cup — versus his output at Austin CC, where he has advanced out of the round-robin stage just once in six tries.
Thomas is not alone, as Justin Rose is also passing on the event. Historically the tournament has featured the top 64 players in the world; however, because LIV Golf players are suspended by the PGA Tour, Justin Suh, No. 77 in the Official World Golf Ranking, is the final man in the field.
The WGC-Match Play begins next Wednesday. It will be the final WGC event, as the tour has instead opted for a designated-event series.