A Major Return for Justin Thomas at Quail Hollow
It's a return to his first Major Championship glory for Justin Thomas at the Presidents Cup this week. The two-time PGA Champion, donning the red, white, and blue for Team USA, tees it up at Quail Hollow Club, where he won the 2017 PGA Championship.
“I think the thing I like about it is it's Bermuda,” Thomas said, “just like the PGA was. So, you know, being back in obviously a familiar place and just a lot of great feelings, a lot of great memories, and I mean it's just an unbelievable golf course.”
Thomas holds three incredible memories from just his back-nine surge Sunday at Quail Hollow in 2017, which delivered him a victory during a day in which there was a five-way tie for the lead with six holes to go for Thomas.
On the par-5 10th, his birdie putt sat on the left lip, with Thomas's line seemingly unmoving on the edge of dropping home. Frustrated he didn't get up and down, Thomas turned to face the crowd. That emotion turned quickly as he heard the roar of the crowd, with his ball falling in ten seconds after it paused. Verne Lundquist sat in the CBS commentator booth, recalling Tiger Woods’s chip in on the 16th at Augusta in his 2005 Master’s victory.
“If he wins,” Jim Nantz, lead golf commentator for CBS, said of Thomas’s putt, “this will be the shot that’ll be played back forever.”
Thomas paid off his third birdie with a chip-in from the fringe on the 13th. But the next to last hole proved the difference maker.
The 221-yard par 3 17th surrendered four birdies before the American stepped up to the tee with a seven iron, hitting what he would deem the then-best shot of his career.
“I’m just aiming that thing at the right edge of the green,” Thomas explained, “and I’m just going to hammer this thing.”
He drew it into the middle of the green, with the ball nestling into striking distance. Thomas knocked in his sixth birdie of the day to move to nine-under par.
A bogey on the last didn't stop the then 24-year-old from hoisting his first Wannamaker trophy with a closing 68 and celebrating with a phone call with his grandfather.
“He just said,” Thomas explained of the call, “’You're something else, and this is the first of many.’”
Thomas proved his grandfather prophetic this year, making a historic seven-shot Sunday comeback at Southern Hills for his second career PGA Championship.
Thomas's Quail Hollow pedigree extends beyond the 2017 PGA Championship. He played there four times at The Wells Fargo Championship, which the course hosted from 2003-2016 and 2018-2021. Over that stretch, Thomas posted three top-26 finishes, including a T7 in 2015.
He noticed a discernable difference for Thomas in the course setup this week is the rough's length.
“The rough was very, very long for the PGA,” Thomas explained, “It's an awkward length right now. But, I mean, it's Bermuda.”
Thomas's past success is another weapon for a deep team USA at the President's Cup this week. As a resident Quail Hollow expert, he shared his excitement for the course to host another marquee event.
“It's such a great test,” Thomas said, “and I think it's going to be a really good venue this week.”