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Justin Thomas brings his long drives to Augusta

By Garry Smits
Published on

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Justin Thomas has become such a freak of nature that his golf swing and body -- right down to his pelvic rotation -- were the subject of a recent Wall Street Journal article that detailed, in precise scientific language, just how a 145-pound man can hit a golf ball longer than anyone on the PGA Tour not named Dustin Johnson.

Thomas was asked to boil down the WSJ story, which came complete with a Golf BioDynamics graphic detailing every move of his swing, in plain English.

"Thank you," said the third-year pro with a smile on Monday during a news conference at the Masters media center, seemingly a bit uncomfortable with being considered a lab experiment.

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Thomas said his length off the tee has been a work in progress and admitted that well into his high school career in Kentucky, his game off the tee was nothing special.

"I hit it nowhere," he said. "My short game was really good ... it had to be for me to have a chance to compete at the junior level, or whatever level I was at."

But with a club pro for a father and a strong work ethic, Thomas learned that technique meant more than brute strength. He still weighed around 135 pounds when he entered Alabama in 2012 but his distance caught up with other bombers in college.

"Probably something to do with my form or maybe I got a little bit stronger ... but I doubt it," he said. "I have never really worked out. Then in college it's kind of when I started hitting it a little bit father than just about everybody I was playing with. I've just gotten stronger since then and my form and how I've started to get up on the ball and speeds are just getting faster. So kind of all that accumulated into it."

The Cliff's Notes version as to why Thomas hits the ball so far, according to Golf BioDynamics, is that Thomas rotates his pelvis 25 percent faster than the average Tour player and has fast-twitch muscles. The result is that he gets 2.1 yards of distance per pound of body weight, the most of any player on the Tour.

Rickie Fowler, 24th on the Tour in driving distance, is another example. He's about Thomas' height (5 feet 10) and is listed as 5 pounds heavier.

"I think it's very impressive what [Thomas] is able to generate," Fowler said. "Really, it's efficiency. When it comes to the smaller guys, we have to use our whole body to generate that power."

Jimmy Walker said it's simple: Thomas and Fowler are athletes who play golf.

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"Are they big enough to play basketball ... are they big enough to play football? Probably not," Walker said. "But they are all just as good athletes, eye-hand coordination, second to none, speed, power, all that. It doesn't take a lot. If you've got good mechanics and you've got good speed."

Thomas had a 409-yard drive at Kapalua Plantation during one of his three PGA Tour victories this season, and he's 11th on the Tour in driving distance, averaging 306.5 yards per poke.

However, Thomas remains a good putter (he leads the Tour in average putts per green hit in regulation, 1.676) and it's the key reason he's tied with Johnson for the most victories this season -- and also why he shot a 59 on his way to winning the Sony Open.

Thomas, who is playing in his second Masters this week, has leveled off since winning those tournaments in a span of six starts. He's missed three of his last six cuts but finished tied for fifth at the World Golf Championship in Mexico City and said he's put in quality work in getting ready for a tournament and a couse that he said are both "sweet."

"Mexico was a big week for me because I really didn't play very well and I had a chance to win," he said. "That, for me, was the first time I had a chance to win a tournament of that caliber. That's big going into a week like this. My game feels good. I've made a lot of great work and progress the past couple of weeks."

This article is written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.


 

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