Justin Thomas bombs 414-yard drive

justin thomas
USA Today Sports Images
Justin Thomas recorded the third ever eagle at the 16th hole at Firestone Country Club.
By
Marla Ridenour
The Akron Beacon Journal

Series: PGA

Published: Saturday, July 02, 2016 | 12:09 p.m.

Justin Thomas said it was the probably the hardest he's ever hit a drive.

But little did he know that his 414-yard bomb on "The Monster," the 667-yard, par-5 16th hole at Akron's Firestone Country Club, would help put him the record books.

Holing out from the rough, 56 yards from the pin, Thomas made just the third eagle on the hole since 1999 during Friday's second round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.

It helped him card a 1-under-par 69 for a two-day total of 139, 3 strokes behind leader Jason Day.

Thomas' eagle was the first at No. 16 since 2008, when Soren Hansen made one in the second round. The only other player to pull it off was Charley Hoffman in the second round in 2007.

Playing in the first group at 10 a.m., Thomas got the benefit of a good roll down the slope at 16. He also correctly judged the wind that bedeviled the field all day.

"It was kind of that left-to-right wind where if I just turn it over the right amount, I can get it knuckling, and as soon as I hit it, I knew -- I was just happy to hit the fairway," Thomas said. "I hit it left of the world yesterday, but as soon as I hit it, I had a pretty good idea it was going to be down there."

For his second shot, Thomas said he had 225 yards to the front of the green and 237 yards to the hole. His 5-iron landed left of the green in the primary rough.

"I really was just trying to get something to bounce up to the front, and I really just hit it a little bit harder than I wanted," he said. "Walking up there, it was a pretty terrible spot. I was pretty furious I hit it there."

Thomas called the lie "OK," but figured the best shot he could hit would leave him a 12-foot putt. He realistically thought it would be more like 20.

"But that's why you take your medicine. That's why you try to hit it on the other side of the hole, and sometimes the flag just gets in the way," he said.

Thomas wasn't surprised that his eagle at 16 was so rare.

"No, not at all. Not only is it 670 yards, but the green is like hitting to a tabletop, and you're probably going to be on a downslope unless you get it way down there," he said. "If you do hit it down there, it's going to be way downwind and you can't hold the green. Barring a hole-out, I don't see too many threes happening. Hitting the fairway is pivotal, and just trying to walk out of there with a 5 is a good score."

Thomas won the CIMB Classic in November and has three third-place finishes during the 2015-16 PGA Tour season, including the Honda Classic and the Players Championship. His shot at 16 helped boost his confidence in his first appearance at Firestone.

"It was nice to finish my round under par," he said. "I felt like I'd played better than 1 over, but it's playing pretty hard out there. If you're not driving it well, and the pins were very difficult today. I hit it well, I just didn't make too many putts. That was really nice to get that to finish under par."

 

This article was written by Marla Ridenour from The Akron Beacon Journal and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.