Justin Thomas putts on the second green during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2019, in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
By Brian Wacker
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — The last time a major was played, Justin Thomas was on the couch watching on television, missing last month’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black due to a nagging right wrist injury that sidelined him for more than a month.
After starts at the Memorial and last week’s RBC Canadian Open, however, Thomas declared the wrist a “non-issue” on Monday in advance of this week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
“I was more upset because I really like Bethpage and I feel like it’s a really, really good golf course for me,” he said. “Same way I feel about Quail Hollow and the same thing about Colonial.
“But everything happens for a reason. And like I said, at Memorial I could go have a great rest of the year, win a major or two and no one will remember that I had to skip the PGA.”
The bigger problem? Boredom. And rust.
Thomas missed the cut at Muirfield Village then added to the Canadian to his schedule, tying for 20th. After finishing in the top 10 in four of his first five starts of 2019, which included a pair of third-place finishes, Thomas has just one top 20 in his last six starts.
There was a more nefarious culprit, though.
“The injury was at a weird time because all I could do was putt for a while,” Thomas said. “I think I could honestly say that I had too much time to putt because when you putt for two or three hours a day, you start thinking, maybe I should try this or do this, or how many times can I do this drill or do that drill.
“It was like, Man, I think I actually am over-putting right now.”
To his point, Thomas, whose lone major victory came at the 2017 PGA at Quail Hollow, ranks 121st in strokes gained/putting on the PGA Tour this season after ranking in the top 50 each of the last two years.
“The year has been weird, it really has,” said Thomas, whose last victory came at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational last August. “I got off to a great start, consistency-wise. I had a couple of great chances to win. I felt like I really should have won LA. I felt like I had a great chance to win Phoenix.
“I’m just trying to stay as patient as I can because I don’t know if it will be this week, if it will be in August, if it will not be until next year, I don’t know when it’s going to be that I’ll win again. But I know that I miss it and it feels like it’s been a while and I’m ready to start doing it again.”