Why Missing Top 70 is No More Than Slightly Embarrassing for Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas, 2023 3M Open,Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Thomas, 2023 3M Open,Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports /

Justin Thomas is quite likely to miss making the top 70 in FedEx Cup points this year. He has one more chance this week at the Wyndham. He probably needs to finish top six to have a solid chance. He’s 48 points behind the 70th-place player.

Sure it’s kind of embarrassing for him. But maybe what he really needs is a three or four-week vacation, and missing the top 70 will give him that. He’s been through a lot in the last two years.

First, there was the caddie change in the fall of 2021, after the Ryder Cup. That’s when Jimmie Johnson resigned his caddie position. Thomas’ manager called Jim “Bones” Mackey who previously spent a quarter of a century toting the bag for Phil Mickelson.

The two of them seemed to be a great combination. Seven or eight months in, Thomas had a victory at the 2022 PGA Championship. Let’s face it, Justin Thomas was fixated on winning another major to keep up with his pal Jordan Spieth who has three of them. Getting that second one was a giant exhale of relief.

"But since the PGA, Thomas’ game has been stuck. He’s now 79th on the FedEx Cup points list, a place most would never have expected him to go."

At the end of the ’22 season, Justin Thomas made another large life change when he got married.

But since the PGA, Thomas’ game has been stuck. He’s now 79th on the FedEx Cup points list, a place most would never have expected him to go. But no one expected Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler to have the slumps they had, either.

Despite the embarrassment of not being near the top in points, Thomas will still have eligibility for the PGA Tour in 2024 and beyond. That’s because he received a five-year exemption for winning the 2022 PGA Championship.

While it seems that the best thing for Justin Thomas might be a three or four-week vacation, there is a medical issue at play, too. By his own account, Thomas had at minimum, a heat sensitivity problem, and at maximum something that sounded for all the world like heatstroke.

In addition, it sounds like Justin Thomas also suffers from a really bad sinus/ pollen problem in the spring. Allergy sufferers sympathize. Millions of people every year are assaulted by the stuff nature pumps into the air.

One thing that’s unlikely to abate is hot weather at golf tournaments. The heat isn’t actually anything new, despite what the weather experts tell us when they complain about global warming.

The 1936 Oklahoma Open in Tulsa, in August, had a temperature reading of 115 degrees. Ouch!

In the 2007 PGA held in Tulsa, which must be a magnet for extreme summer heat, the temperatures fluctuated right around the 100 mark every day. It was reported that 40 people were hospitalized with heat problems at the tournament.

Twenty-five years before that, in 1982, Tulsa provided another monster heat week. Temperatures hovered at the 100-degree mark. Raymond Floyd won it, and it was a real survival test. His solution to the conditions was wearing a cold towel on his neck and shoulders, saying he had to beat the heat and the golf course.

But there are other hot places.

The 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont CC, outside Pittsburgh, was another scorching week. That was in June. Chris Patton withdrew after eight holes and was taken to a medical facility, saying he was dizzy and sick to his stomach.

There was a giant thermometer nailed to one of the trees, a tree that is probably not there anymore, and it frequently read over 100. The National Weather Service said 97, but they were under-measuring it, based on the tree reading.

Australian Bradley Hughes, who played on the PGA Tour for several years in the 1990s, was doing a diary for his website. It was his first major.

“The weather all week was brutally hot. 100 degree temperatures with stifling humidity-made even worse by the huge galleries who blocked the air flow from lining every fairway around the course,” he wrote.

So, heat isn’t new and isn’t going away any time soon.

So maybe Justin Thomas investigates the solutions that were used at the Japan Olympics. When he was there, he used a sweat towel under his hat. Others used cooling sheets and some had shirt sprays.

Cooling and misting fans, set up around the course were available for fans and players.  But one gimmick that is totally portable and for sure lasts a round of golf is the neck fan. Take it off for the shot. Put it back on in between.

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Whatever the fix ends up being for Thomas’ health and golf game, one thing is certain:  Despite finishing below No. 70 on the FedEx points list this year, he will still be able to enter every tournament he wants to next season except the playoffs.

By that time, maybe he will have the hot weather and pollen issues straightened out. Maybe he will even have a couple slices of pizza.