Justin Thomas thrives in Oklahoma wind, in contention at PGA Championship
TULSA, Okla. – Justin Thomas got the worst side of the weather draw at the PGA Championship, and in the Oklahoma gusts, he thrived.
With the wind blowing in excess of 30 mph Friday morning at Southern Hills, Thomas went out early and shot another 3-under 67 that has him in contention in Tulsa. Through 36 holes, he is at 6 under par and in solo third place. He’s three back of leader Will Zalatoris and two removed from Mito Pereira.
Thomas, who is becoming known for low rounds in high winds, was asked what makes him excel in difficult conditions.
”I have confidence that I can execute still and hit the shots that I want,” Thomas said. “I would like to hope a little bit of it is skill, that I’ve worked hard enough that I’m good enough to be able to execute that kind of stuff. But I don’t know. It sucks sometimes when you’re playing and you’re not playing well, but it’s fun to be able to challenge and execute some shots when you’re trying to.”
Thomas was certainly able to execute Friday morning, hitting 16 of 18 greens in the strongest winds of the week. He performed well with the driver, too, with his day featuring a 409-yard tee shot on the par-4 first, his 10th hole.
But the big story through two days for the 2017 PGA champion is his improvement on the greens.
The world No. 9 is ranked 82nd on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained: putting, but finished sixth in that category Thursday and was ninth in Round 2 when the early wave finished. Since his breakthrough major triumph at Quail Hollow, Thomas has only one top-5 finish in a major, a fourth-place showing in the November 2020 Masters. He’s coming off a tie for eighth last month at Augusta National.
Thomas had the lead when he finished his second round, but was passed on the leaderboard by Zalatoris and Pereira as the winds died down in the afternoon.
Southern Hills has typically been friendly to players out front headed into the weekend. All seven major champions at the Tulsa track – four PGA Championships and three U.S. Opens – have lead or co-lead through 36 holes.