CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For the second straight day, Justin Thomas rolled around Quail Hollow with Rickie Fowler’s putter in his bag.
Thomas took 31 putts on Thursday and said he felt “so desperate in terms of how [he] was feeling over the putter” that he asked to borrow one of Fowler’s backups, a Scotty Cameron Newport 2.
The switch has paid some early dividends for Thomas, who backed up an opening 73 with rounds of 69-70 to get back to 1 under for the week.
He’s gone from a negative in the strokes gained: putting column after 18 holes to almost picking up a full stroke on the field through 54. Still, the guy who won the PGA here last year is a little tough on himself.
“I wouldn’t call it necessarily … working. I’m in 36th,” he laughed. “I putted really, really well today. I just didn’t make anything.”
Thomas has had the bulk of his success on the PGA Tour employing the putter he ditched just two days ago, a Cameron Futura X5. But even a guy who’s shot 59 on Tour and 63 in a U.S. Open can suddenly lose his feel with a club that’s carried him to such great heights.
“That’s the thing. I wasn’t going to continue to use something that I thought I wasn’t going to make putts with,” Thomas said. “I’m a total advocate of using what works. [My putter] has been great to me for a while, and it’s not to say I won’t go back next week or down the road, but a putter needs to be on your good side, and feeling good in your hands. It wasn’t feeling good in my hands.”
As for what comes next, Thomas intends to have a Newport 2 of his own made for next week.
“I’ll have something made up of my own so I can give Rick’s back,” he said. “I used a putter like this my entire life until I used that one. So it’s an easy, easy adjustment.
“I’ll use [something] identical to this, basically. The exact same as this – just mine, not his.”
Whether he’ll use the new blade at The Players is another matter.
“Oh, I don’t know. Whatever is working for me. I’ll play with a shovel,” he said.