Justin Thomas proved again, this time at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, that you don’t have to be a bomb-and-gouge player to win on the PGA Tour.
For those who consider themselves purists of the game of golf, Sunday’s victory by Justin Thomas at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational brought many smiles. Especially considering Thomas topped Brooks Koepka, who plays a totally different style of golf, down the stretch in Memphis.
Yes, I know. Call me old. Tell me that I should have the kids get off my lawn. That’s fine. But golf, in its purest form, is played the way Thomas plays the game, not the way Koepka plays it.
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Thomas does have the ability to hit the long ball off the tee, but not like Koepka. Thomas is more of a traditional tee-to-green player, whereas Koepka is a bomb-and-gouge golfer.
Just the physical difference between the two players is huge.
Koepka is listed at six feet tall and 205 pounds. He’s probably closer to 240. Thomas, on the other hand, is listed at 5’10” and 160 pounds, which is probably generous.
Make no mistake, Koepka’s style certainly can work. And it does. After all, he has won seven times on the PGA Tour, including four majors. So, there is certainly a place for that type of play in the world of golf.
However, the way golf has traditionally been played is the way Thomas plays the game. He doesn’t simply try to overpower golf courses. He thinks his way through them, working hard to take advantage of what he does well.
However, as the old saying goes, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. And no player has more fight in him than Thomas. If he needs to take himself to the woodshed to get things right, he can do that, as he did on Sunday.
Thomas is the third-youngest player in the last 60 years to reach 13 career wins. The only two players who did it faster are a couple of well-known names – Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. That’s elite company for Thomas. He reached the feat quicker than Rory McIlroy or Phil Mickelson, who are now fourth and fifth on that list.
With the win, Thomas regains the world’s number one ranking and he avenges a loss he suffered a couple of weeks ago at the Workday Charity Open. On Sunday at that event, Thomas had a three-shot lead with three holes to play, only to lose to Collin Morikawa in a playoff.
Now, he can bask in the glory of another victory, not only for himself, but for the purists of the game.