U.S. Open 2024: How this contender’s unconventional prep led to a leaderboard-climbing performance

Thomas Detry

Jeff Haynes

PINEHURST, N.C. — It’s always interesting to see how players prepare for major championships because they all seem to have a different approach. While some hone in on fundamentals, others focus on shot selection. It’s all about finding what works best for the individual.

This week at Pinehurst No. 2, U.S. Open contender Thomas Detry, who climbed the leaderboard on Friday with his four-under 67, revealed the interesting and unconventional way that he prepared for this major championship.

“Instead of teeing off early with everyone, we kind of teed off at 4 p.m. when there's literally no one on the course,” Detry said Friday in a post-round interview. I was spending 20 minutes on each green, kind of having a feel for the slopes, having a feel for the grass, for the greens."

This approach seemed to pay off for Detry, as he’s first in the field for strokes gained/putting (3.24).

Another area of focus for Detry this week was ball-striking—more specifically, spin rate.

“I was very committed to my targets. I was hitting a lot of full shots out there," Detry said. "I was trying to get as much elevation as possible. Instead of knocking down 7-or 8-irons, I was trying to hit like full 9-irons and full wedges to try to get as much spin and as much height as possible.”

According to stats that Trackman published back in May, the PGA Tour spin rate average for a 9-iron is somewhere around 8793, so it’s likely that Detry was shooting for something around that number.

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When chasing spin, one thing to note is that there is a sweet spot. As we’ve seen, shots with minimal spin have a tough time holding the firm and fast greens at Pinehurst. However, a ball with too much spin will lose distance which makes it difficult for players to gap their yardages, and could even risk spinning off the green.

Detry seems to have found the perfect combination of both this week, and it's leading to his possibly best major performance.