Thomas makes all the right moves
Playing in The Open for the first time, Justin Thomas could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.
The 23-year-old American found Royal Troon very much to his liking this morning and briefly held the clubhouse lead after a four-under-par first round of 67.
In benign conditions, Thomas opened with four successive birdies and added another at the 7th to reach the turn in 31. His inward 36 was made up of a bogey, a double bogey, two birdies, one at the last, and five pars. All in all, he was happy with a good day’s work.
“To birdie the first four holes doesn’t hurt,” Thomas said with unintended understatement. “It cushioned me for the rest of the round.”
At 23 years of age, and hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas has an old head on young shoulders. He is in his second full year on the PGA Tour in the US and already has a win under his belt. He refuses to get ahead of himself, however, and has taken on board the fact that the scoring needs to be done on the front nine at Royal Troon, while the back nine is used for consolidation.
“If I could play 10 and 11 in three or four over par (combined) for the rest of the week, I’d take that now,” he said. “They are very difficult holes.”
One reason for Thomas’s relaxed demeanour could be to do with the friendships he has forged on Tour and the fact that he is sharing a house (and a chef) in Troon with five of his countrymen – Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker and Jason Dufner. Any one of them could be in contention come Sunday evening, so it goes without saying that they will spur each other on.
Earlier this week, Thomas took a sip of wine out of the Claret Jug just before it had to be returned to the safe keeping of The R&A by Johnson, his housemate and winner at St Andrews in 2015.
“I was tentative because I’m superstitious,” he said, not wishing to put the jinx on his challenge. After a start like this it seems he had no need to worry.