BMW Championship: Justin Thomas has terrible warmup, takes lead with 65

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BMW Championship: Justin Thomas has terrible warmup, takes lead with 65

PGA Tour

BMW Championship: Justin Thomas has terrible warmup, takes lead with 65

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MEDINAH, Ill. – An hour before his tee time in Thursday’s first round of the BMW Championship at venerable Medinah Country Club, Justin Thomas was a lost soul.

He didn’t know where the ball was going on the practice range, didn’t know what his swing was doing and was desperate to find a fix with help from his swing coach Mike Thomas, his father, and from his caddie, Jimmy Johnson.

“I probably would say that I had the worst warmup I’ve ever had in my life,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know what (the ball) was going to do. I didn’t know how I was going to hit it, and my dad and Jimmy and I just kind of said that we were going to have to guess out there and just try to find something.

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“I’ve had that happen plenty of times, just not quite that extreme.”

Five hours later, Thomas signed for a course record-tying, bogey-free, 7-under-par 65 to grab the early lead in the second of three FedExCup Playoffs events. Jason Kokrak shot 65 later in the day to grab a share of the lead.

Golf is a funny game.

“I found my game kind of early. I hit a good tee shot on 3, hit a great 5-iron in there on 4 and then played 5 well,” he said. “So I felt like I just was more so trying to hit shots as opposed to having a golf swing thought. I was thinking that I just need to try to hit the yardages today, try to hit numbers, and just see what I can get out of it.”

He got the most out of it as he tied the course record set by Skip Kendall in the 1999 PGA Championship and then equaled in the 2006 PGA Championship by Tiger Woods and Mike Weir.

“Obviously any time you shoot 65, especially to open a golf tournament, it’s great,” Thomas said. “It seemed all my birdie putts were easy putts. It just felt like it was a very low-stress day.”

Well, after he got off the practice range, that is.

With players still on the course, Thomas had the clubhouse lead by one shot over Joel Dahmen and Jim Furyk, the oldest player in the field who isn’t acting his age. While he lives in a world full of young studs with plenty of power such as Thomas, Furyk slices and dices a golf course into submission. En route to his 66, Furyk, nine months shy of turning 50, hit 12 of 14 fairways in regulation and made four birdies and an eagle.

Lucas Glover and Brandt Snedeker also shot 66. Seven players were in with 67s, including Tony Finau and Adam Scott.

Thomas, 26, hasn’t won in 18 starts this year after winning three times last season and five times the previous season, when he was the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year, won the PGA Championship and was the FedExCup champion.

A wrist injury hindered Thomas earlier this year after he had gotten off to a strong start with five top-10s in his first seven starts. But his right wrist started acting up and he was forced to take an injury sabbatical and missed nearly two months.

He hasn’t had a top-10 since February.

But he’s said everything has been fine for two months now. He has tied for 11th and tied for 12th twice in his last three starts.

“It’s weird,” Thomas said when asked to assess his 2018-19 season. “It’s been an odd season just because I’ve missed three tournaments. But the difference with this season and any other season is I’d won.

“But I’m playing every bit as good as I have any other year this year for sure.”

 

 

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