Justin Thomas had the chance to go to World No.1 at the WGC Match Play, but he openly admitted the pressure got to him a little. He has the chance to do it again this week at Augusta though and will hope to perform well again, as he looks to win a second consecutive major.
Thomas won last year’s PGA Championship, and that was the first of four wins since he last played here last, making him a much more exciting prospect again this time around.
Thomas has made the weekend on his first two starts at Augusta which is always a positive sign and his last round at Augusta was his best so far.
The now 8-time PGA Tour winner shot a final-round 70 last year, and whilst he hasn’t yet broke the magic number yet, he will have found some confidence on that Sunday.
Given his now much larger stature in the world of golf, there is every reason to believe he improves once again, on his third straight visit to Augusta National.
Why he can win the 2018 Masters
When we speak about elite talents that can win any time they tee up, Thomas is now in that category, so no matter what negatives you can find about him this week, it would be naive to rule him out.
A long driver of the ball, an exceptional player tee-to-green this season and a putting stroke that’s good enough to see him contending in majors for years to come, Thomas will relish another shot at Augusta.
After a couple of slow weeks in Hawaii to start 2018, which saw him finish 22nd of 30 players at the Tournament of Champions and then 14th at the Sony Open, Thomas headed to Phoenix. He posted another top-20 there (T17) but was still not living up to his new, lofty standards.
His next four events culminated in four top-10s however, including a win at the Honda Classic, a 2nd a week later in Mexico and a semi-final appearance at the Match Play, it didn’t take long to return to form.
This is what exceptional players do, they put a couple of average weeks behind them, and rack off a run of top finishes to remind us why they are the very best.
In truth, Thomas’ only two bad weeks since his last missed cut at the Open Championship last summer, were a T47 finish at the BMW Championship in the FedEx Cup play-offs and that week at the Tournament of Champions.
Finishing near the bottom of the pile in a reduced field in Hawaii on what is your first start of the calendar year is hardly a real reason for concern.
He would perhaps convince more this week had he have had a sub-70 round Augusta already but he improved marginally from his debut when finishing T22 last year and he will be expected to fair much better this time around.
There is no reason that Augusta shouldn’t suit his game, given his strength off the tee, so expect him to challenge the rest of the favourites come Sunday as he looks to pick up his third win of the season, and second major title.