SOUTHPORT, England – People began the day at the British Open talking about what Justin Thomas was wearing. They’ll end it talking about the way he played.
“It’s nice definitely to get people to stop talking about that,” said Thomas, who shot 3-under 67 while sporting a navy tie as part of his Polo Golf/Ralph Lauren scripting for Thursday’s opening round. “Obviously, I knew it was probably going to get a lot of publicity and be out there, but I didn’t come here to dress well.”
No, Thomas came to Royal Birkdale to play well. And through 18 holes, he’s succeeded.
The 23-year-old Goshen, Ky., native birdied the par-4 second hole to move into red numbers. And both times he bogeyed, at Nos. 6 and 14, he responded with birdie on the next hole each time.
Then came the round-maker. Thomas hit the fairway at the par-5 17th before pulling out a 9-iron and hitting a monster approach onto the green. The eagle make moved him to 3 under, where he trails leaders Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka by two shots.
“I’m just overall pleased with how low-stress it was for how hard it was,” Thomas said.
Not bad for a guy wearing a tie, right? All kidding aside, Thomas had done it before, in the 2013 Walker Cup. He also wore a tie every day in high school as part of the school’s dress code.
Just don’t expect him to wear it again this week. He’s over the tie talk. Now it’s time to focus on the golf ahead.
Thomas entered the week ranked 13th in the world, and is less than a month removed from his third-round 63 at the U.S. Open. Of course, that weekend at Erin Hills also included a closing 75, a round that Thomas has tried to forget.
“I can think of 63 shots that come to mind before Sunday,” Thomas said. ‘Sunday’s definitely not something I’m taking from that week. I mean, I’m taking the experience from Sunday and the fact that I was there. … But (the memory of) it was gone Monday morning.”
After two straight missed cuts following the U.S. Open, though, Thomas has left some wondering whether he was still getting over Erin Hills. Thomas admitted there were brief times alone when he thought about it, but now he’s completely and utterly over it.
He proved that Thursday.