A 14-time PGA Tour winner, Justin Thomas doesn’t show up to tournaments just to cut corners. However, the weekend seems to be something he’s proud of, much like his good pal Tiger Woods.
So it was little surprise that Thomas grinded late to the back nine on his second round of RBC Heritage in Harbor Town, where he had toyed with the same par line all day. On a brutally windy day at Hilton Head, he just managed to sneak in one under one and hit an even par 71. Brutally windy is somehow Thomas’ specialty:
Unfortunately, Thomas couldn’t convert that birdie putt, but the pars were pretty good on Friday. Now he has the opportunity to do what he so often does on weekends: absolutely COOK. On Saturdays this season, Thomas ranks fourth on the tour with a scoring average of 68.44. He wasn’t quite as elite on Sunday, although he’s still among the top five goalscorers in the finals with a 69.11 average.
Whether he goes 63-64 or 73-74 over the weekend doesn’t change the fact that Friday’s grind session was still an impressive one, extending his streak of cuts on tour to 19, the longest current streak of any Russell player Henley was next behind Thomas, his streak ending at 16 when he missed the number cut late Friday night.
For those keeping count, Thomas has 123 more straight cuts to go just to tie Wood’s record 142 straight.
Here’s everything you missed on Day 2 in Harbor Town.
At this point, let’s just say what we all already know, rather than keep playing “He’s back!” Playing with Jordan Spieth and what we do know is that he is an extremely volatile golfer who is just working through some things with his swing. Heck, he’s always been an unpredictable golfer who seemed to use his swing to work things through, but his generational/magic putting often masked that and earned him a boatload of tournaments. Now that his putter has gone freezing cold, it has become a lot harder to hide all his “searching.”
And yet he can provide brief moments of brilliance, especially with his irons. The three-time major champion gained nearly three strokes on Friday’s approach, a day after losing .279 in the same category. He also gained more than five shots from the tee to the green, which is particularly noteworthy given the conditions. It all added up to a 68 in the second round, pairing with his 69 in the first round, putting him five under and just four off the lead heading into the weekend.
“I had the feeling that I drove the ball extremely well,” said Spieth, who is 17th in the SG/off-the-tee field. “To drive the ball really well here, and I was also playing aggressively, so I had a lot of wedges, which of course is a lot better if you’re a little off than putting in more clubs.
“I have yet to get the putter to heat up. It felt better today, it’s just that I missed some putts short. I think they were slower with the wind. But overall I played a really good round of golf , which could have been something special .”
He’s… absolutely right. Spieth lost strokes on Friday’s putting and once again it was the short ones that really hurt him. He had four feet for the eagle on the second par 5 and missed, and he missed an 11 foot for birdie on the fifth par 5. He missed from 11 and 12 feet on the eighth and ninth holes, both birdie attempts. In 11th place? Missed an eight foot for birdie. The 2015 version of Spieth might have shot a 63 in 20-mph winds on Friday, which is a scary and somewhat depressing thought. The good news is that he didn’t see it that way.
“I mean, I made good shots today,” he said. “Yesterday was kind of like the last few weeks where it wasn’t really engaging and stuff, but made really nice shots today. That’s going to be key I think, just hitting them a little harder and adjusting the speed, not afraid of the three or four footed coming back.”
Like so many others, Patrick Cantlay’s momentum was half stunted at the Players Championship as the weather wreaked havoc on half the field. His scores of 72 and 77 at TPC Sawgrass marked the first time he had shot 72 or worse in two consecutive rounds since Thursday and Friday of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. This was followed by an early elimination as a group favorite at the WGC Match Play and then a “meh” T-39 at the Masters. Before that, he had finished ninth or better in six of his previous seven starts.
This guy seems to be back in Harbor Town, a place he clearly loves with two third-place finishes and a seventh-place finish in four trips. After a 66 in the first round, Cantlay hit a Friday 67 that was highlighted by a birdie-birdie-birdie-birdie finish on the windswept section of the course. That’s Balling, as the kids say.
“Of course it’s a dream finish,” said Cantlay. “I finally landed some putts and that was really nice to see how you go into the weekend. It’s been a tough day out there and I figured any round under par or even around par would be a win for today .”
Cantlay is surprisingly aiming for his first win since the Tour championship. He was on a Scottie Scheffler-like heater in January and February, although he didn’t redeem in the form of a win or victories like Scheffler. Scheffler was one of his hurdles when he defeated Cantlay in a playoff at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
He doesn’t have to deal with Scheffler this weekend and, apart from Spieth, he only has a few top players in his rear-view mirror. At nine under, he is the solo leader, two ahead of Robert Streb.