PALM HARBOR, Florida – On its 28e birthday, Justin Thomas could not wish the ball in the hole in the first round of the Valspar Championship.
Thomas ranked No. 146 in the field of 156 in Wins Won: Putting, losing more than 2.5 strokes on the court with the short stick. And that’s after making a 13-foot birdie putt on the last hole. This is the bad news.
The good news? This birdie putt completed a 2 under 69 round for Thomas at the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort and five strokes behind leader Keegan Bradley after the first round, and two better than his compatriot, world No.1 Dustin Johnson, who headed straight for the lineup after an indifferent turn.
Best of all for Thomas? The world No. 2 was not too concerned about his difficulties on the greens.
Valspar: Consult the footage log | Ranking | Pictures
“I hit a lot of quality putts that just weren’t put into play. The only really really bad putt I hit today was the 14. I just hit too hard. I was playing the station wagon for smoother speed and hit it. But I hit a lot of good putts, I think it could and should have hit a lot of quality golf shots, ”he said. “I know I could easily have shot 4, 5, 6, 7 shots, 2 cents better, it’s good after the first day.
Thomas took a rolling start with a 12-foot eagle on the first hole and changed his 186-yard approach to 2 inside feet on the second. He made his first bogey of the day at the sixth, but recovered it by drilling a 5 iron to the inside of a foot at the eighth par 3 hole.
“I just tried to get a good flight on it and hold it against the right-to-left wind and it was probably the best shot I hit today,” Thomas said.
But on the back nine, the putter let him down with bogeys at two par 3s, nos. 13 and 15, and he missed from the inside 3 feet for birdie at 14. Despite the birdie on the last one, Thomas headed straight for the putting green to work on his shot with his father, junior and trainer John Graham.
The anniversary dinner celebration would not be on hold for long, he said.
“I just wanna go see a couple come in and see if there’s anything that maybe fundamentally or something that could be wrong as to why I was missing them, but, no, I mean I hit a lot good putts there ”mentioned.
When he blows out the candle on his birthday cake, Thomas should wish for a better setting day on Friday where he will have the benefit of putting fresh vegetables in the morning.