Justin Thomas ‘very easily could have won’ Valspar despite shooting 70 in final round

Justin Thomas ‘very easily could have won’ Valspar despite shooting 70 in final round
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Justin Thomas had one stroke too many at the Valspar Championship to miss out on a playoff and possibly end his year-long winless drought. 

The 14-time Tour winner  — who after three consecutive rounds of 66, shot 70 on Sunday  — can probably look back at numerous holes throughout the week where things could have gone better. In Round 1, Thomas said he missed seven putts that “easily could have gone.” And if one — or two — of those dropped, maybe he would have notched his first victory since last year’s Players Championship.

However, Thomas was still in the hunt at Innisbrook through 72 holes. But Sunday didn’t go as Thomas hoped and one bogey sticks out like a sore thumb. On the par-5 11th — a hole he birdied in each of the first three rounds — he carded a bogey after his tee shot landed in the right rough. 

“I didn’t make enough birdies,” Thomas said after finishing T-3. “I didn’t hit the ball as well today. Got a couple of bad breaks, which is a bummer. I laid that ball up pretty nice there on 11 and just right into a hole there at the end of the fairway. That’s one I’m usually licking my chops, kind of pitching off the green. And then I was just, pretty much just trying to figure out how to hit the green.”

Full-field scores from Valspar Championship

That was Thomas’ first bogey on the back nine all week. On Day 4, he only had two birdies on Innisbrook’s backstretch, after having four in Round 3, five in Round 2 and three in Round 1 with an eagle. 

On Thomas’ 72nd hole of the tournament, he needed a birdie to find himself in the playoff with fellow Alabama Crimson Tide Davis Riley and eventual winner Sam Burns. Thomas nearly holed his approach from 88 yards out, but the ball fell just 5 feet left of the cup. 

“I didn’t really do anything at all today and I very easily could have won the tournament,” he said. “I mean, good drive on 18, and I have a wedge in there and could be in this playoff just as easily. 

“But a lot to build on, a lot of positives, and we got a big stretch coming up, so I’m excited for it.”

Before the tournament, Thomas said being No. 8 in the world ranking “pisses” him off. With the T-3 finish, his fourth top 10 in six starts this year, he’ll move up one spot. And with major championship season right around the corner, he hopes getting back in the win column will be worth the wait. 

“I mean it’s coming, I just got to be patient and be in the right frame of mind because you can’t force anything in this game,” he said. “As soon as I start doing that you get down some rabbit holes. I’m doing a lot of really, really good things. I just need to keep putting myself there and it will start happening.”

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