Thomas (illness) hopes to keep improving after 71


PALM HARBOR, Fla. – The same ailment that slowed several of his peers at the WGC-Mexico Championship finally caught up to Justin Thomas prior to the start of the Valspar Championship.

Thomas was at full speed last week in Mexico City, where he led entering the final round and ultimately tied for fifth. But he began to feel ill early this week and opted out of his scheduled pro-am spot Wednesday at Innisbrook, citing a combination of stomach and sinus issues.

Thomas made it to the first tee for his opening-round time, and he even eagled his opening hole. But he made only one birdie the rest of the way, sliding back to an even-par 71 that left him nine shots off the lead.

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“It was weird, I was fine in Mexico. A lot of people got sick or weren’t feeling well, but I was great,” Thomas said. “I don’t know what it was, whether it was the change in altitude or something I ate before I left, but things haven’t been settling well the last couple days. It’s at least trending in the right direction, just very, very slowly.”

Thomas found only 10 of 18 greens on the tree-lined Copperhead Course, but he wasn’t willing to put any of the blame for his score on the fact that he spent the last couple days under the weather.

“I feel fine in terms of the stomach stuff, which is great. Stomach still isn’t great,” Thomas said. “Just don’t have a lot of energy, or I didn’t today. I’m fine. I’m not as bad as I’m sure some people might think. But hopefully it will just keep improving.”