Making the cut on Tour as a 16-year-old . . . "That's neat."
Sunday, August 23, 2009
A father and his two small children stood outside the ropes at Sedgefield Country Club wearing “Saint X” T-shirts, cheering on 16-year-old Justin Thomas as he walked by.
“A guy I’ve never seen in my life and his two kids wearing T-shirts from the school that I go to?” said Thomas, a junior and member of the state championship golf team at St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky. “That was just neat.”
His 5-under 65 in the opening round of the Wyndham Championship Thursday – including a par-save from behind a tree on No. 18 to complete his bogey-free round – propelled him to become the third-youngest player to make a cut on Tour.
The 5-foot, 10-inch, 135-pound Thomas – who earned a spot in the Wyndham field by winning the American Junior Golf Association’s FootJoy Invitational at Sedgefield in June – checked in at 16 years, 3 months and 23 days old. Bob Panasik made the cut at the 1957 Canadian Open at 15 years, 8 months, 20 days; Tadd Fujikawa entered the weekend at the 2007 Sony Open at 16 years, 4 days old.
Thomas, 25th in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings, instantly became a fan favorite at Sedgefield, telling reporters he was here “to win” and creating enough excitement to get one local columnist to call him “the next big thing.” Along for the ride was his caddie/father, Mike, the head professional at Harmony Landing Country Club in the family’s hometown of Goshen, Ky.
Thomas, a third-place finisher and low amateur earlier this month at the Kentucky Open, followed with rounds of 72-71 for a 2 under total. With 87 players making the second-round cut, he missed the 54-hole cut by two shots.
“It was awesome. I mean if you would have told me I was going to make the cut at the beginning of the week, I would have taken it,” said Thomas, who did not try to qualify for this week’s U.S. Amateur so as not to miss two consecutive weeks of school.
“But shooting 65 in the first round kind of spoiled me. Being up there, I wanted to stay up there.”