PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club


Justin Thomas tries new Scotty Cameron putter in scramble to qualify for FedEx Cup Playoffs, Ryder Cup


When you’re a frustrating 160th in strokes gained/putting, staking the field up to three-tenths of a stroke every round on the greens, something has to give. For Justin Thomas that meant a switch to a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 9 tour prototype putter with a counterbalanced build (38-inch shaft and counterbalance grip) ahead of this week’s 3M Open.

“I used a counterbalance [putter] my rookie year for a little bit and I putted really, really solid with it in that kind of short range, it was just the speed with the longer ones,” Thomas said after a first-round two-under-par 69 at TPC Twin Cities, in which he still lost 1.06 shots in SG/putting. “In practice it was great, my speed was great. I think I just probably put a little bit too much pressure on myself to make some putts early. I stayed patient, I holed some, obviously left plenty out there. But I holed some really nice ones there on the back nine to salvage a decent round in some tough conditions.”

The prototype is a mallet head with wings, not totally dissimilar to the Cameron that Thomas had been using, with a pair of weights in the sole. The markings on the bottom say “T9.5” and “FOR TOUR USE ONLY” while the face appears to be milled.

Thomas’ change comes in part to try to find a quick fix for his game. He had just one top-10 finish in his last seven starts, including four missed cuts. Ranked 75th starting the week on the FedEx Cup points list with only the top 70 making the Playoffs, and seeing a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team slipping away, something needed to change.

As for going the counterbalance route, which has seen recent success with Rickie Fowler and Wyndham Clark, Thomas acknowledged his awareness of that.

“Yeah, I guess it's the hot thing right now,” he said. “I've always said, I mean, I'll putt with a shoe if it means I'll make everything, as long as it's a Scotty Cameron shoe. It's something I feel comfortable with. Obviously to go back and forth just because of where we're at in the season, but at the end of the day I'm obviously going to play with what I feel like is going to give me the best chance for success and good play, and that's what I did and I still have faith in it.”

Thomas has a history of changing putters including right before the Open Championship in 2021 to a putter that combined the company’s new Phantom X 5 head (a similar style and shape as his previous Futura X5.5 mallet) but with a prototype knuckle neck, similar to what you might see on a Cameron Newport 2 model.

He changed again at the 2022 PGA Championship to a new Scotty Cameron by Titleist Phantom X 5 Knuckle Neck prototype mallet he had at his Florida home. Although that putter was similar in shape to the putter he put in the bag at the 2021 Open Championship in appearance, it had subtle, but significant differences to the neck and sound.

The history here is important and perhaps explains why Thomas is willing to make such a significant switch with so much on the line. After Thomas made a putter switch in 2016 he went on a run, winning five times in 2016-17, including his first major at the PGA Championship and being named PGA Tour Player of the Year. And the switch before the 2022 PGA worked out well, as he claimed his second Wanamaker Trophy that week at Southern Hills.

Thomas can only hope for similar success from this latest change.