Alabama kicker hasn't missed since linking up with Justin Thomas

PGA Championship - Final Round Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Alabama kicker hasn't missed since linking up with Justin Thomas

PGA Tour

Alabama kicker hasn't missed since linking up with Justin Thomas

The University of Alabama’s kicking game needed a boost in 2017. It has arrived in the form of kicker Andy Pappanastos and former Crimson Tide golfer Justin Thomas.

A senior transfer from Ole Miss, Pappanastos struck up a friendship with Thomas, winner of the 2017 PGA Championship, after a mutual friend connected them by phone.

“I’ve talked with him several times, just picking his brain about the mental aspect of it,” Pappanastos told al.com. “Since I’ve talked to him, I haven’t missed.”

Thomas’ connection with Pappanastos,  7-for-9 overall this season as the Tide’s primary placekicker, is the latest link between Alabama’s kicking game and golf.

“I feel a whole lot more comfortable,” Pappanastos said. “It was really nice to get in that environment, specifically and just do the best I can. I took some positives away. I felt like I really left a lot out there. Didn’t necessarily have the best game I wanted to but I was able to take some pieces of it and put it together in practice and I’m just in a good rhythm and routine right now.”

When working with kickers and punters to help them establish consistency, coach Nick Saban likens their leg swing to that of a golf club. And Punter JK Scott last week said he was inspired by a quote from Thomas’ good buddy and FedEx Cup favorite, Jordan Spieth.

“He said to take conservative angles but aggressive strokes,” Scott said. “That’s been my goal and what I did was take an aggressive angle, which I shouldn’t have.”

Thanks to Thomas, Pappanastos said he is confident as Alabama begins SEC conference play at Vanderbilt this week. Thomas won the Haskins Award while at Alabama in 2012 and played for the Crimson Tide 2013 national championship team before turning pro.

“He’s really been over-the-top helpful,” Pappanastos said. “I was talking to him on the phone for 30 minutes and literally just jotting down notes. He just talked about how your mentality has to be on the sidelines. You want to have the opportunity to kick it and I’ve really been able to implement that. And the results have been pretty good so far. I owe him a lot.”

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