Justin Thomas Masters Preview
Augusta, Ga. is home to the most famous golf tournament in the world, and this week, the competition gets back on the course for their quest for the coveted green jacket. 88 of the best golfers in the world tee off Thursday, and 87 of them will go home on Sunday wishing they had one more shot at glory. But for Alabama legend Justin Thomas, the story is a little different.
JT will enter into his 8th Masters when he tees off at 9:42 AM CST alongside Jon Rahm and Cameron Young with everything on the line. Thomas comes into the week ranked 10th in the Official World Golf Rankings, his lowest Masters week ranking since his rookie season in 2016 (34th). With two major championships under his belt, winning the PGA Championship in 2017 and again in 2022, the Louisville native is still seeking that coveted green jacket to cement his legacy as one of the most dominant golfers of his generation.
Augusta National is famed for being one of the most difficult and unforgiving courses on tour, and many golfers have claimed that the course has a mind of its own sometimes. Luckily for Thomas, he’ll have Jim “Bones” Mackay on his bag assisting and guiding him through every shot from the first tee on Thursday, to the last putt on the 18th green on Sunday. Bones caddied for Phil Mickelson for 25 years, racking up 41 tour victories and 5 major championships as a duo. Bones and Thomas joined forces back in 2018 and have since been arguably the best golfer/caddie duo on tour.
Thomas was asked Tuesday about what makes his relationship with Bones so special and said, “[Bones and I] are really good at taking a part of where I feel like I’m at, and then [we] can kind of create a game plan on that specific hole or day based on the lie, or the weather, or any other factors that we may come across throughout the weekend.”
Thomas has recorded a top-10 finish in two of the last three Masters tournaments, so he’s no stranger to the towering pines and tight fairways that await at Augusta National. And at a golf course that can play more mind-games with golfers than any other course on tour, preparation is key.
“My preparation has probably been less,” Thomas said when comparing past years at Augusta. “I think you can almost work yourself into some bad habits or thinking too much. I have a really good idea on how to play this place, I know what pins are where, I know where to hit it, where not to hit it, certain winds, whether a shot plays shorter or longer, what putts are faster than others, so my preparation is more just getting a feel for the golf course and the environment of The Masters.”
Thomas cited that he spent approximately 30 minutes putting on the practice green on Tuesday, and decided to leave, stating, “everything felt good, there was no reason to stay longer and create any problems for myself.”
Augusta National is a 2nd-shot golf course, meaning the strength of irons will be the key to coming out with four strong rounds. It’s no secret that Thomas is the best wedge player on tour, and when his irons are working, he can easily compete with the best iron players on tour. The struggle for Thomas recently has been the putter and the driver. Last week, in a practice round with Rory McIlroy, Thomas changed the grip of his putter to what Rory had and claimed that it “felt great and was almost unnoticeable.” The question mark of the week will be JT’s driver, which has been so hit or miss for him lately.
“The one good thing about having driver problems is that they’re noticeable on the first shot of your round,” Thomas said jokingly. “The bad part about them is if they continue throughout the round, and you don’t correct it, they can take you out of contention pretty early on.”
The world will see what Thomas has got in his driver when he takes the first tee at Augusta National at 9:42 AM CST in his quest for his first Masters win.