Strong Winds Can't Blow Justin Thomas on Friday at Southern Hills
Justin Thomas couldn’t be blown off course as winds gusted upwards of 30 mph at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Friday. Thomas, who carded a 67 for one of the few low afternoon rounds on Thursday, backed that up with another 67 on Friday morning and sits 3 shots back of Zalatoris head into moving day.
Thomas’s 134 total matches his best 36-hole start in the PGA Championship.
“Although I played solid yesterday, I played really, really well today,” Thomas said on Friday. “We're halfway through so it's still a long way from home, but I'm very, very pleased with where everything is at and the frame of mind and state of mind that I'm in.”
Friday morning, the intense wind topped the list of storylines as the PGA of America sent a notice overnight to players notifying them that the greens would not be mown in advance of round two because of the forecasted high winds. Mother Nature would prove to be both a hindrance and a help. The decorative flags surrounding the 1st tee could be heard snapping in the breeze as Thomas stepped up to hit his drive. With a 25-mph gust at his back, he piped his driver 409 yards down the fairway, leaving him less than 80 yards to the pin.
“The conditions were obviously very difficult. I stayed very patient, tried to get in my own little world and get in a zone and just tried to execute each shot the best I could,” Thomas said. “I think just being as windy as it was, it was a lot of manipulating and different shots.”
Despite the conditions, Thomas remained unflappable. He began his day with an opening birdie at the par-4 10th, his first hole of the day, to move within one of 18-hole leader Rory McIlroy. The 2017 PGA Champion took advantage of both par 5s on the course, Nos. 5 and 13, with birdies on each. Thomas’ lone bogey came at the par-3 14th where he was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker, a common challenge among the best players in the world this week as they’ve struggled to adjust to the unusual texture. Thomas ended his round the same way he started with a birdie at the par-4 9th, his final hole of the day, to take the lead early in the day.
“The way I played the last hole, I couldn't have really drawn it up much better. A perfect kind of little slider driver and leaving that gap wedge just under the hole there and making that putt right in the middle,” Thomas said about his closing birdie. “That was a nice way to end it.”
Thomas sits in solo 3rd heading into Saturday, behind only Zalatoris and Mito Pereira.