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Justin Thomas on source of extraordinary power: 'I have no clue'

Justin Thomas is listed in the PGA Tour’s media guide as being 5 feet, 10 inches and weighing 145 pounds. He’s 23, but looks like a kid who might be captain of the high school swim team. Or ask you for your clubs at the bag drop.

But man, he can hit a golf ball. He absolutely pounds it. Thomas belted a drive 348 yards at the 555-yard 15th hole at Kapalua’s Plantation course in Saturday’s third round, leaving an 8-iron in for the second consecutive day. He hit 3-wood 357 yards, and ran out of fairway, at the long 520-yard par-4 opening hole. He smoked a drive that went 404 yards – yes, 404 – around all the danger at the rugged 17th.

This Justin Thomas drive?

404 yards. #QuickHits

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 8, 2017

He made eagle-2 at the par-4 14th on Saturday, set up at 287 yards, when he hit driver to 22 feet. He had to get creative with that one. A normal driver would carry over the green, in all likelihood, and 3-wood just wasn’t enough. So Thomas said he nuked a low drive that was slowed by the grain of the fairway and chased up onto the green, “just enough to scoot up the ridge,” he said. Perfect.

Better view or better putt?

Justin Thomas now leads by 2.#QuickHits

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 8, 2017

Thomas really can’t explain the physics behind why, at his size, he crushes a golf ball.

“I have no clue,” he said Saturday after his third consecutive 6-under 67 gave him a two-shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama, the hottest player on the planet (Matsuyama has won four of his last five starts.)

“I’ve been told I ‘use the ground’ well. The fact that I’m probably almost in the air when I make contact probably doesn’t hurt anything. Kind of why I wear metal spikes, because I need all the support I can get to not flip. I don’t know. It’s weird. Probably junior, senior year of high school, I started hitting it a little farther and then college I got a little stronger and started hitting it even farther. I don’t know. I’m pleased with it, whatever it is.”

Whatever it is, it’s working very well at Kapalua. He leads all players this week in strokes gained: off the tee (and sixth in strokes gained: putting). Thomas has two PGA Tour victories, capturing the CIMB Classic, a fall event in Malaysia, in 2015 and 2016. (He’s actually the last player to win an event with Matsuyama in the field.)

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Justin’s teacher is his father, Mike. When Justin was really young and started to play junior events, he’d finish a round and would call his dad, the head pro at Harmony Landing in Goshen, Ky., and run down all the holes that he could not reach in regulation. There would be as many as five such holes in a round.

“I had to hit a driver on a par 3 pretty much surefire every week,” Justin said Saturday. “It was at least one.”

Um, clearly, that’s no longer the case. There were no phone calls needed on Saturday to talk about a hole he could not reach.

“I don’t know when that age was,” he said, “but I’m happy to be out of it.”

Yeah, he’s out of it, all right.


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