Justin Thomas is another surprise name in the field, but it’s hard to blame him for wanting to get back to the Copperhead course.
JT owns four top-20s in five starts at Innisbrook, including a career-best T-3rd (66-66-66-70) last year. He was in the penultimate pairing on Sunday and was within three, but Thomas couldn’t summon one more sub-70 round to seal the deal.
The University of Alabama product’s only misstep at the Valspar Championship was a missed cut in 2017. He’s otherwise finished T-10th (67-72-73-68) in 2015, T-18th (72-67-72-73) in 2016, and T-13th (69-71-67-70) in 2021.
"“There’s just a lot of holes you have to just be so cautious out here I feel like,” Thomas was transcribed by ASAP Sports in 2016. “The par-3s are tough. You’re trying to find the green and two-putt, get out with a 3. There’s some longer holes you’re trying to hit the green in two and two-putt for a 4.”"
Thomas hopes his course history overrides recent form.
A T-60th last week at the Players Championship was a bit of a surprise. At the same time, a lot of big names stumbled at TPC Sawgrass, so the fact that he at least pieced together his seventh- straight made-cut dating back to July is a positive.
The 29-year-old is looking at his best chance to pick up his first win since the 2022 PGA Championship against a weak field.
I like Thomas’ chances as he’s got a good short game to get past the Snake Pit. He’s third on the PGA Tour in strokes gained per round around-the-green (.576).
Thomas is 11th in SG tee-to-green (1.205) but his iron play hasn’t quite been as crisp as we’re accustomed to seeing. I expect that part of his game to return soon and he’ll start picking off more wins instead of top-10s and 20s.