Justin Thomas’ stewardship is paying off at the PGA Championship

TULSA, Oklahoma – Honesty is always the best method when it comes to athlete self-evaluation.

Those who are honest with themselves are more likely to succeed than those who lack confidence.

This is one of the most valuable assets in Justin Thomas’ arsenal, who – not coincidentally – is fighting for the PGA Championship leaderboard this weekend.

Thomas, who came 6-under after a second straight 67 on Friday, and leader Will Zulatoris with three shots over the weekend, refuses to hit himself and he doesn’t want anyone around him to hit him.

Thomas, 29, is stuck in one career major – the 2017 PGA Championship – and hasn’t competed in many others, and it bugs him because he understands the urgency of capitalizing on his talent and best performances.

In his 25 big starts this week, Thomas has just that one win and five top 10 finishes.

That, Thomas knows damn well given his considerable talent, wasn’t good enough.

Since his PGA 17 victory, Thomas has only had one realistic shot at winning a Major — a fourth-place finish at the 2020 Masters, and that was eight shots off Dustin Johnson’s victory score.

Not good enough.

Thomas’ best finish at a Major last year was a tie for 19th place at the US Open.

Not good enough.

Justin Thomas tees off on the ninth hole at Southern Hills during Round 2 of the PGA Championship.
Justin Thomas tees off on the ninth hole at Southern Hills in Round 2 of the PGA.
Getty Images

What makes this all so odd is the fact that Thomas wasn’t in some sort of long-term angst like Jordan Spieth got in a few years ago and like Rickie Fowler is currently trying to get out of. Thomas has 14 career wins.

The most refreshing thing about Thomas, however, is how honest he is with himself. Thomas chiding himself at the Masters last month for underperforming at major championships was a rare display of public honesty.

“I haven’t performed anywhere near well in my entire career in the majors,” Thomas said in Augusta, where he bounced back from a weak first round to tied eighth. “I feel like I played very, very badly.”

After shooting 67s in Thursday’s opening round, Thomas said he will “sign up” for three more 67s for the remainder of the tournament. One falls out Friday, two go Saturday and Sunday.

Thomas, who posts two more 67s to make 12-under for this week, would put him in good position to win a second career PGA championship and second career major.

“A long way to go, a long, long way home, but I’m very happy with where I am,” said Thomas.

What makes Thomas’ performance over the last two days even more impressive is the fact that he got the bad side of the draw after playing in the windiest conditions on Thursday afternoon and even windier conditions with gusts of 40mph on Friday morning .

Before the round, instead of lamenting the unluckiness of the draw, Thomas spoke of taking on the challenge of the elements. He did it and it showed.

JustinThomas
JustinThomas
AP

He plays perfectly with how honest Thomas wants to be with himself and has surrounded himself with people closest to him who aren’t “yes men”.

His caddy, Jim “Bones” Mackay, is a seasoned veteran who isn’t afraid to speak his mind with his player – something he did with Phil Mickelson with aplomb for 25 years. Then there’s Thomas’ father, Mike, who has been his swing coach since he was a kid. Thomas said he pushed his father to be more critical of him.

“Sometimes I get mad at him,” Thomas said. “As a father, he doesn’t want … he’s not going to become full Butch Harmon or Pete Cowan [high-profile swing coaches] and tell me I suck or that’s not very good or whatever, and sometimes I’d love for him to say that just because I want to hear it.

“Sometimes I have to remind him, ‘You’re not my dad out here, you’re my swing coach, and you have to tell me when something’s wrong. I don’t need an ego boost.” I’m here to try and win a golf tournament and play well, so do your job. It’s gotten a lot better over the last few years, but it’s like any player-coach relationship. They need that accountability.”

Accountability is honesty.

Common characteristics of the winners.

https://nypost.com/2022/05/20/justin-thomas-accountability-paying-off-at-pga-championship/ Justin Thomas’ stewardship is paying off at the PGA Championship

JOE HERNANDEZ

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