RBC Heritage

Harbour Town Golf Links

Crunching the Numbers

Justin Thomas has historically frustrating day putting at the Valspar Championship


Douglas P. DeFelice

After a frustrating 2023 season for Justin Thomas, the results in 2024 have suggested the two-time major winner has turned a corner: four top-15 finishes in six starts, a spot inside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup points list and a World Ranking also safely in the top 30 to secure appearances in upcoming Signature events on the PGA Tour.

Which makes what happened Saturday at the Valspar Championship feel all the more out of the ordinary.

After a birdie on the first hole of the Copperhead Course, Thomas sat at six under with a share of the first on a crowded leaderboard. But then his putter went cold. And when we say cold, we mean like Artic frigid. There was a missed eight-footer for par on the second hole, a missed six-footer for par on the third, a three-putt from 13 feet on the seventh hole and a missed four-footer for par on the eighth hole.

Thomas would wind up taking 38 putts during the round and would hole just 22 feet, 10 inches. He made seven bogeys and a double to post an eight-over 79, falling to T-66 as he posted the worst score of 2024 by four shots and the highest number since a first-round 82 at the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool last summer.

Thomas wound up registering a strokes gained/putting score of -7.024. Data guru Rich Gehman calculated that as among the 35th worst single round scores since the start of the ShotLink era in 2008. That’s out of 239,727 measures rounds. Gulp.

Here was another way to look at the disappointing putting day.

Thomas ranked T-145 in strokes-gained/putting for the season after ranking T-135 a year ago, so it’s a bugaboo that remains a work in progress of late. We’re guessing the best way for Thomas to forget about the round is to do just that, forget about it and move forward. Here’s hoping that’s possible.