PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Justin Thomas began the second round of The Players Championship with an errant tee shot that hit a tree and went precisely 142 yards. Things didn’t get any less strange from there.
Thomas turned in the day’s most colorful scorecard at TPC Sawgrass, shooting a 1-under 71 that included seven birdies, four bogeys and a double. Dating back to a tumultuous close to his opening round, he endured a stretch of 19 straight holes that included just a single par.
“Even keel, very easy day,” Thomas said with a grin. “I don’t really know what to say about that round. It was so bizarre.”
Thomas started on the back nine and promptly bogeyed each of his first three holes, a stretch that he said he expects to play in at least 1 under most days. After a three-putt bogey on No. 17 and a watery double on No. 18, he made the turn at 4 over for the week and seemed headed for a missed cut.
But he rattled off three straight birdies on Nos. 1-3, and after pouring in a 10-footer on No. 9 he clawed back to even par and within five shots of the lead.
“I was happy with the way I grinded out there,” he said. “I was fighting and I just was making too many mistakes. But I’m in a really good position going into this weekend.”
Thomas added that, given his position through 27 holes, “excited is an understatement for the weekend.” While he took a more unconventional route, he ended up tied with playing partners Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy through two rounds and took some pleasure out of finally cobbling together a solid performance alongside McIlroy.
“I’m glad I finally shot under par with Rory. I don’t think I ever had,” Thomas said. “The first time I played with him in a tournament it was probably a little nerves, but I just I don’t know why. I’ve had a hard time playing with him, so I was glad to see that I finally got over the hump to break par with him.”