Justin Thomas looked like a completely different golfer on Friday at the Fortinet Championship. After a first-round full of blunders and struggling to find the fairways, Thomas turned it around to card a 5-under 67 to sit on the first page of the leaderboard.
He incredibly hit 17-of-18 greens in regulation, was No. 2 in strokes gained off the tee and No. 5 in strokes gained approach. The two-time PGA Championship winner also led the field in driving distance at 340 yards.
Those numbers are much improved from Thursday where he hit just 3-of-14 fairways and was No. 71 in driving distance at 301.5 yards.
“I was getting stuck underneath it,” Thomas said. “I could feel it some out there, and I feel like the adjustment I made on the fly yesterday to at least get it in the house, and so I had a good thought from a little 10-minute range session yesterday afternoon that I felt like could get me through today, and it worked pretty well.”
Thursday’s round made some wonder if Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson made the right choice in picking Thomas. However, those doubters have likely been silenced for the time being. He made six birdies on the day, including his final two holes, the par-4 8th and 9th.
“I played really solid, I drove the ball well, felt like I gave myself a lot of chances, felt like a lot of like 12-to 20-footers,” Thomas said. “It was nice to make those putts on the last two holes… Again, that’s why I stay patient, kind of stay in it… birdied those last two to salvage a good round.”
His ability to adjust on the fly is something Thomas does often. It’s one thing that has made him who he is as a professional golfer.
Yet, this season has been a struggle for Thomas.
But he didn’t let his struggles, or the controversial selection to the Ryder Cup deter him from pushing forward.
One of his changes was implementing a new driver, which helped Thomas tremendously. He has used it all week, but it finally started to work for him after making that adjustment.
“If I drive it like I did today, I’ll use it for the rest of my career,” Thomas said Friday.
It seems Thomas has found some much-needed confidence on the course. He finally appears to be enjoying himself again, and that could be happening at the right time, with the Ryder Cup just two weeks away.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.