The beauty of the new designated events for fans is seeing players return to events they’ve recently eschewed. Sure, top players have one designated event they can skip without PIP repercussions, but unless they’re injured, odds are they’re going to be there.
Case in point, we’ve got Justin Thomas back at the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the first time since his only appearance in 2015.
That year, he finished T-49th (69-71-73-71). He was still an up-and-coming young pro at the time who had just recently creeped into the top 100 in the world ranking.
Now that he’s well-established and perhaps a future Hall of Famer, I see Bay Hill being another course he takes kindly to.
Thomas can have squirrely driver weeks, so avoiding water off the tee is of high importance. If he can do that, his superb iron play is going to help him leave his ball in the right places on these treacherously fast greens.
JT ranks 17th on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained per round tee to green (1.129) and is first in SG around the green (.823). He’s 18th in sand save percentage (64.29%) and is 100% scrambling from the fringe.
He just needs to get his putting turned around and he’ll begin to pick off tournament wins.
Thomas is in solid form, though he’s likely upset he hasn’t won yet in the 2022-23 PGA Tour season. He’s finished top-25 in all four events in 2023 highlighted by solo fourth at the WM Phoenix Open.