After a month-long hiatus, Justin Thomas is back playing on the PGA Tour.
He carded a 3-under 69 to open the Fortinet Championship despite hitting just 3-of-14 fairways.
“I thought I managed my game pretty well,” Thomas said to Golf Channel’s Kira K. Dixon after the round.
“I drove it terribly for most of the day. I really feel like I salvaged a good round out of what I had. I made some really nice putts; greens got bumpy at the end, so it was nice to cruise to the finish line but still a solid start.”
Thomas did putt well Thursday, something he will need to do in Italy for the Ryder Cup in two weeks. Of course, Thomas’ selection to the team was met with controversy because of the sub-par season that he had.
He struggled throughout 2023 because of his issues off the tee. The Alabama product ranked 132nd this season in driving accuracy, finding fairways just 56.2% of the time.
On Thursday, that trend continued, as he ranked 100th in the field in strokes gained off the tee. Only nine golfers in the 156-man field hit fewer fairways than he did.
“I had nothing,” Thomas continued.
“I was missing fairways; it did not matter if it was Driver, 3-wood, or 5-wood. I could not hit the fairway, but I kept tinkering until I found something, and I did. So that is the kind of stuff I enjoy more than anything, salvaging a round like today when it very easily could have been one or two over.”
Thomas sits in a tie for 18th—with U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson—after Thursday’s round, six strokes behind leader Lucas Herbert.
Defending champion Max Homa, the only other Ryder Cupper in the field this week, carded a 2-under 70.