Wanting to make Ryder Cup over playoffs, Justin Thomas has one chance left at both at Wyndham Championship

Wanting to make Ryder Cup over playoffs, Justin Thomas has one chance left at both at Wyndham Championship
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It’s called Moving Day for a reason — and Justin Thomas did some heavy lifting Saturday at the Wyndham Championship. 

Needing at least a solo 18th-place finish or a solo third or better without any help to qualify for the FedExCup playoffs next week, the two-time major champion fired a third-round 66 to jump 10 spots on the leaderboard, sitting T-11. 

“I feel like I do well when I’m playing well,” Thomas said. “I mean, I feel like I am. You know, I’m excited for tomorrow to be a cool opportunity and just try to go play as well as I can and see how many birdies we can make.”

Thomas, who has never missed the playoffs in his Tour career, came into the week ranked 79th in the FedExCup, nine spots out of the final playoff spot. However, he’s currently projected at 72nd following 54 holes at Sedgefield Country Club. Also one of the mainstays of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Thomas is making one final push for Rome, ranked 14th in the Ryder Cup standings. 

Full-field scores from Wyndham Championship

The world No. 26 — his lowest ranking since 2016 — has overcome pressure before, emerging victorious in some of the sport’s most prestigious events. This week, though, is different than anything he’s faced. 

“It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s a different kind of nerves,” he said. “I mean, it’s a lot harder than trying to win a golf tournament in my opinion. I think when you’re trying to win a tournament you’re there and if you don’t win it’s a bummer, but you still had a great week kind of thing. If I just don’t get it done for what I need to get done this week, then it sucks and my year’s over.”

If Thomas fails to squeak into the playoffs, it could be detrimental to his Ryder Cup hopes, as he won’t be able to make a final bid for the team in the postseason. U.S. Captain Zach Johnson could still use one of his six captain’s picks on Thomas, considering he boasts a 6-2-1 record in his two previous Ryder Cup appearances.

Going into Sunday at Wyndham, Thomas — who is 66th on Tour this season in final round scoring average at 69.92 — is more concerned about missing out on a trip to Rome rather than Memphis next week for the playoff opener. But he’s not using the fact that his season could be over in 24 hours as motivation heading into the final round of the regular season finale. 

“That’s hurt me all year,” he said. “I mean, I want to make the Ryder Cup team so bad. It’s so important to me. I legitimately would rather make the Ryder Cup than the playoffs, which is really, really messed up to say, but it’s just the truth. But because of that, I think that’s why I played so poorly the last month and a half or two months. Like, it’s just I’m putting so much pressure on myself to play well.”

The 30-year-old has 18 holes left to continue moving up the leaderboard and keep his season — and Ryder Cup hopes — alive. And working in his favor, he’s been able to shake nerves many times before. 

“Fortunately for me, I’ve been in some tough situations before with majors, trying to win tournaments and team events where I feel like I’ve had a lot of pressure on me,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to kind of use some of those past experiences for tomorrow if I’m feeling any of it.”

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