Justin Thomas shot a 2-under-par 68 in Sunday’s final round at the Wyndham Championship and sat 71st on the FedEx Cup points list before a weather delay held up the final groups. Here’s what you need to know:
- Thomas’ final round included an eagle on No. 15 followed by a bogey on No. 16. His chip from 34 yards out on 18 bounced off the flag stick, costing him a birdie that would have gotten him into the top 70.
- He started the week at No. 79 on the FedEx Cup points list.
- Only the top 70 players qualify for next week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tenn., a departure from previous years where the top 125 made the playoff cut.
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Evaluating Thomas’ golf game
Thomas went into this week trying to A) make the FedEx Cup playoffs and B) prove that his game is, as he’s been insisting for a few weeks now, actually really close to being “really, really good” — the term he used Tuesday. I think he did that, even if he finishes 71st in the FedEx Cup standings and is not in Memphis next week for the start of the playoffs. Go back to the Open Championship. There’s no denying Thursday was a disaster, but he came back and shot an even-par second round. He goes to the 3M Open and misses the cut, but it’s at 2-under. Some progress made. Then he goes to Greensboro and shoots 71-65-66-68 over four days with more attention (and resulting pressure) on him than anyone else in the field.
During the final few holes Sunday, as Thomas rode the top-70 playoff cut line, he just scrambled like crazy, fighting and pushing with a couple of really awesome par saves on 17 and 18. His emotion on 18 as his birdie attempt from 34 yards out bounced off the flag stick was really something. He left every bit of what he had out there. He’s much closer right now to being the Justin Thomas we expect to see than the one we’ve witnessed for much of 2023. — Kellenberger
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 6, 2023
Ryder Cup chances
This brings us to the question, especially after Thomas admitted Saturday that being at Marco Simone means more to him than making it to Memphis (which, duh), of whether or not this week was enough for United States captain Zach Johnson to make Thomas one of six captain’s picks.
Let’s first remove the notion that this was a binary decision, that Johnson would have picked Thomas if the flag stick had been pulled on 18 Sunday and the ball drops in to get him into the top 70, but because it wasn’t he’ll be sitting at home … that’s nonsense. It’s a much larger picture than that, with a multitude of factors.
Johnson surely was looking for a reason to pick Thomas, with his sterling team golf record and tight partnership with Jordan Spieth, and there was probably enough there to solidify that call. Golf Digest’s Joel Beall has floated the theory that this week’s announcement of Stewart Cink as a fifth vice captain means Thomas is already on the team, since that spot could have been kept open for Thomas as a way to give him a role even if he was not playing. I can see that. I also do not see anyone from the contender list (Sam Burns, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, etc…) making a significantly better case than Thomas.
I started the week thinking Thomas was on the outside looking in, and probably shouldn’t be a part of the Ryder Cup team. I’ve come around now. He could go to Europe and play a couple of DP World Tour events if he wanted to finetune things, and we’ll surely revisit this if someone gets hot in the next three weeks, but my best prediction right now is that he’s on the team. And does something in Italy to validate that tough call. — Kellenberger
Entering the weekend, Thomas had missed six cuts (including last week’s 3M Open) in 19 events played this season, with nine top-25 finishes and three top-10s. The 2022 PGA Champion won the FedEx Cup in 2017 and finished T5 in last year’s Tour Championship won by Rory McIlroy.
The top 50 golfers after the St. Jude Championship will move on to the BMW Championship outside Chicago, with the top 30 (as is usually the case) advancing to the Tour Championship in Atlanta the last weekend of August. The total bonus pool for this year’s FedEx Cup playoffs is $75 million.
The PGA Tour approved scheduling changes in March that guarantee the top 50 players who qualify for the BMW Championship entry into next season’s list of designated events.
(Photo: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images)