Justin Thomas hasn’t lived up to his sky-high expectations ever since winning the Players Championship back in March. The World No. 3 hasn’t recorded a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since that victory, and his struggles on the greens have been the most glaring reason why.
Ahead of this weekend’s British Open at Royal St. George’s, Thomas swapped out his old putter for a new one in an effort to fix his biggest flaw. Will the sudden putter change help Thomas contend at the final major of the year, or will it only make matters worse for the 14-time winner on Tour?
Justin Thomas has struggled with the flat stick this season
Thomas is elite at almost everything there is to do on a golf course. He ranks inside the top 13 on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green, and scoring average this season.
But putting has been a different story.
Through 18 PGA Tour events played this season, Thomas ranks 107th in Strokes Gained: Putting. It hasn’t just been an issue with longer putts, either. Thomas ranks 129th on Tour in putting from inside 10 feet, and he’s 103rd in 3-putt avoidance.
When those short misses pile up for Thomas during a tournament, frustration sets in, and the rest of his game suffers as a result. Everyone knows how important putting is in a major championship, including Thomas, so he’s decided to switch things up ahead of the Open Championship this weekend.
Thomas makes putter change ahead of British Open
After a rough season on the greens thus far, Thomas finally said enough is enough. Before last weekend’s Scottish Open on the European Tour circuit, the 28-year-old made the switch from his Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 putter to a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5 Tour prototype. The new putter features a “knuckle neck” design, which is more rounded on the edges than traditional flat putters.
Thomas gained 0.23 strokes putting in the Scottish Open in his first start with the new flat stick, which ranked 59th in the 156-player field. He even holed a 90-foot eagle putt in the first round en route to a T8 finish.
“JT’s had incredible success the last five years with his Futura X5.5… but he had been thinking lately about experimenting with a slightly different look,” Scotty Cameron Tour rep Drew Page said. “We took the Phantom X 5 head shape he loves and gave it a Newport 2-style neck which he’s also used in the past. He tested it at a few different neck lengths and was able to find a setup that was giving him a more consistent stroke pattern with that little bit different visual and the same feel that he’s used to.”
Don’t worry, you don’t have to know what any of those fancy terms mean. Just know that Thomas feels more confident over the ball with his new Phantom X 5 Tour prototype, and he’s hoping it can lead to a strong weekend across the pond.
Thomas is 20-1 to win the British Open
Making a drastic move such as switching putters the week before a major championship isn’t normally a good sign for a player’s confidence. And Thomas is going to need all the confidence he can muster at Royal St. George’s this week.
In four career starts in the Open Championship, Thomas has only recorded one top-50 finish. He’s struggled on links courses for most of his PGA Tour career, but his T8 at the Scottish Open with a new putter last week gives him plenty of momentum heading into the year’s fourth and final major.
Thomas enters the tournament with 20-1 odds to win the British Open. Do you trust JT and his new flat stick enough to throw down a bet?
All stats courtesy of PGA Tour