SILVIS, Ill. - If Justin Thomas was bothered by his implosion at The Greenbrier, he was able to put it behind him pretty quickly.
“This is pretty satisfying,” he said after his round Thursday, “especially considering how I finished last week.”
Thomas opened with an 8-under 63 to take the early lead at the John Deere Classic. He made two bogeys in his opening round but followed each of them with four consecutive birdies, adding two more for a total of 10.
“That’s a streak I’d certainly like to keep up for the rest of my career,” he joked.
It was two impressive bouncebacks for Thomas, who the whole time was trying to bounce back from his collapse last week. In search of his first PGA Tour win, the 22-year-old led by himself last Sunday at the Old White TPC, and then played his final 10 holes in 8 over, the collapse highlighted by a four-putt double bogey and later a quadruple bogey.
Despite playing well enough to lead through 62 holes, Thomas admitted he had “absolutely no confidence” on the greens. Though he still three-putted twice Thursday, he also made a whopping 190 feet worth of putts, including a 50-footer on No. 7.
Aiding him this week is an extra set of eyes in Matt Killen, Thomas’ longtime putting instructor, who is on the bag at TPC Deere Run. Thomas was using Steve Stricker’s caddie last week at The Greenbrier, while Stricker had his wife Nicki helping him around.
“I’ve known Matt for a long time,” Thomas said. "He’s been my putting coach since I was in college, so it’s good to have in out there and see me in competition.”