Justin Thomas claimed his third victory of the season and ninth of his young career today finishing -15 for the tournament. He did it with a consistent, one under 69, carrying him to a comfortable four shot victory over the likes of DJ, Kyle Stanley, Jason Day and Ian Poulter. On a day where all of the guys that were in contention crumbled around him. Thank the Lord, Ian Freaking Poulter chocked on his lunch and shot +4. I caught some flack for calling JT a “sleeping giant” and “dark horse” coming into this event. Maybe my choice of words should have been tweaked a little but he had relatively average betting odds and all the buzz had been around DJ, Tiger, Tommy Boy, Etc. coming into the event. He hadn’t been in great form, with a missed cut at The Open and boom, he wins one of the biggest events of the year leading into the PGA.. Hope you joined me and the other 27% of people that owned him because he only brought in a smooth 120 points on DraftKings. If you didn’t I’m sorry.
JT did it with his ball striking this week, hitting 75% of his greens in regulation. Couple that with a driving distance average of 306 yards and hitting nearly 60% of his fairways, the man is going to be hard to beat. 4th in SG Putting and 1st in approach doesn’t hurt you either. We all know his scoring ability and he showed that in the first two rounds, posting a 36-hole score of 11 under par. After that he only needed -4 under to hold off the field. This victory will move JT to within 147 points of DJ for first in the FedEx Cup Standings and up another spot in the OWGR as well. It was a very special win for Justin, as it was the first time his grandparents saw him win on the PGA Tour. He got very emotional coming off 18 giving his grandpa and grandma tear filled hugs. As the reigning PGA Champion there is nothing better than rolling into a Major Championship title defense with a win, except that only two people have won the preceding event and gone on to win the PGA. Those two being Tiger in 2007 and Rory in 2014. With that thing said, I expect another good showing out of him next week, when he gets on a heater, look out.
Well, it sucks that Tiger couldn’t keep it together on the weekend and stay in the hunt. To be quite honest, he did stink it up pretty bad. After a nice opening round of 66 followed by a second round 68 it looked like we were going to be in for a classic moving day charge that would put him in position for a familiar Sunday finish. That wish didn’t come true after Woods posted back to back two over, 73’s to end his last chance to win this event at Firestone. It looked like the wind came out of his sails the last couple of days. When you only hit 35% of your fairways and 55% of your greens its going to be hard to compete. Tiger struggled with hitting putts hard enough again this week which has become a common theme of late. That is what brought upon the switch to the mallet style putter. The only round finishing above the average SGP for the field was his final round. In his post round comments, he said the biggest issue was his ball striking, “I hit a few pulls this week. Also hit a few blocks. I hit it both ways.” He has a quick turnaround as he heads to St. Louis a place where he hasn’t played since September 11th, 2001. It doesn’t sound like he will have an off day, “we’ll see. I need to get back after it tomorrow.” For a guy that is going to play 7 out of the next 9 weeks, I love that he’s grinding. My favorite line that he said today was this, “I was trying to be aggressive as possible and fire at everything. It was either going to be a 62 or a 72.” This is the mentality you have to have if you are 10 plus shots back in the final round. It has also been the only negative thing I had seen in weeks prior. I didn’t feel like he was being aggressive enough in certain situations. In complete Tiger fashion he walked off his final time at Firestone by birding the 18th hole which he has done so many times. All in all, this wasn’t the week he wanted, but we all know he will be up for the final major of the year. We will get into Bellerive Country Club and the PGA later in the week.
This ends the long run of a PGA Tour event at Firestone Country Club. With winners including, Palmer, Nicklaus, Woods, and McIlroy, this course has its place in the history books of professional golf. It has hosted three PGA Championships, The American Golf Classic from 1961-1976, and WGC Bridgestone-Invitational from 1999-2018 in the format that we know. Golf won’t be leaving Akron after this season with the Senior Players Championship being committed to the South Course thru 2022. This is the right move, the course that once was deemed “The Monster” has lost a little bit of that feeling over the last few years. With golf course architecture being more popular, many deem this a vanilla golf course and I tend to agree. It is very much a down and back down and back traditional tree lined, park style country club course. This is expected as it was designed by Bert Way in 1929 and redesigned by Robert Trent Jones in 1960. I will give a compliment to the course this week, it punished the guys that didn’t keep it in the fairway. That is the great equalizer that the tour needs to pay more attention too. Guys weren’t able to get it to the green if they hit it in the thick stuff. No matter how far you hit it, if you are in the rough and in the trees the course is going to be protected. I know that sounds pretty obvious but the course set up guys haven’t seemed to pay much attention that this season. What really struck me was on 18 when Rory and JT hit drives of over 370 yards and had lob wedge into this green, when Tiger back in 2001 had 167 yards into the green after hitting driver. Once again showing the affects of technology on the game. Well, we bid you farewell Firestone South, we will miss Tiger Woods dominating you to the point of submission.
It’s going to be another big week here on Tight Lies. We are going to have a huge PGA Championship Preview on Wednesday, CBHS Alumni Golf Tournament Recap Friday, and our hat proofs are in with the first order being placed today. They turned out nice if you ask me.
If you want a hat contact me thru messenger on either Instagram or Twitter and I’ll get it in the works.
Hope everyone had a good weekend and is geared up for the final major week. Watch out for those Monday, Tight Lies.