Justin Thomas posts 11-over 82 in first round of Open Championship: Is it surprising?

Justin Thomas’ 2023 struggles continued Thursday at the first round of the Open Championship, shooting an 11-over-par 82. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Thomas posted five bogeys, two double-bogeys and finished the round with a quadruple-bogey on No. 18 to end the day tied for second-to-last place.
  • He has now recorded consecutive major rounds in the 80s, shooting 81 in the second round of the 2023 U.S. Open last month before missing the cut.
  • The two-time major winner also failed to make the cut at the Masters earlier this year and finished T65 at the 2023 PGA Championship.
  • South African amateur Christo Lamprecht, Tommy Fleetwood and Emiliano Grillo share the lead at 5-under after round one.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Who is Taichi Kho?

He’s the one player in the field who Thomas beat on Thursday.

It’s one thing for an elite player in the world to struggle and play poorly on a major stage. It happens. It’s another thing to shoot an 82 with no injury to cite or issue to explain it. But this is where Thomas resides nowadays.

He shot a 39 on the front. Then a 43 on the back. He was 3-over on the par 3s, 6-over on the par 4s, and 2-over on the par 5s. He was bad off the tee, worse approaching the green, and worse yet on the green.

You want to say it’s surprising, but it’s not.

This is all part of an alarming trend for a player whose 2022 PGA Championship win was seen as a potential positive turning point in his career.

The 2023 season has been a borderline disaster. Thomas’ best finish this year is a fourth-place finish in Phoenix back in February. He has two top-10 finishes since — a T10 at Valspar and a T9 at Travelers — to go with four missed cuts and a disastrous showing in the majors. Thomas missed the cut in Augusta, finished T65 at the PGA, and was 14-over through two rounds at the U.S. Open before heading home.

Thursday feels like the bottom. But there’s no such thing in this game. Thomas has to return to the course Friday and who knows what’ll happen.

Thomas is down to 43rd in Datagolf’s rankings. He’ll soon fall lower.

This isn’t only an issue for Thomas’ standing in conversation among the world’s best players. That’s currently irrelevant. As of now, the question is whether he can even make the 2023 U.S. Ryder Cup team. It’s all a stunning turn for a player who starred for the American team at Whistling Straits and won a major in the time since. There’s little-to-no case to be made, though, that he’s among the 12 best U.S. players at the moment.

We thought there might be a turnaround coming after Thomas finished T9 at Travelers in late June, but he’s still skidding. His short game is in total shambles. His putting is in shambles. Everything else? It’s not much better.

There’s still time for Thomas to turn the year around, and he’s accustomed to success in the FedEx playoffs, but something dramatic needs to happen.

Friday would be a good time to start. — Quinn

Required reading

(Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

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