Justin Thomas finishes fourth for best career Masters outing

Julie Williams
Golfweek

As soon as Justin Thomas wrapped up this Masters performance, he started thinking about the next one. Shortly after coming off the 18th green with a fourth-place finish — eight shots behind Dustin Johnson’s 20-under runaway – Thomas indicated he was ready for another chance.

“I wish the tournament in April started tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll just say that.”

Thomas, a 27-year-old former University of Alabama star from Louisville, posted rounds of 66-69-71-70 for his best Masters finish – both in relation to par and position on the leaderboard – in five career starts here. There’s a lot to be said for that, but Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, was left wanting more.

“I mean, it was far from my best stuff,” he said when asked to reflect on the week as a whole. “So to finish fourth with that is a positive. I mean, I keep getting better. I’m very confident I’m going to win around this place at some point. I just don’t know when or if it will happen. I’m very comfortable. I just need to execute a little bit better.”

Truly, it looked like it might be Thomas’ week. His opening 66 moved him into contention and he played his way to 8 under by going 2 under through the first nine holes of his second round (which he started on No. 10). But from there, a double-bogey on the first hole derailed him and Thomas couldn’t get under 70 again.

“I didn’t hole anything the last three days, but I hit the ball beautifully yesterday,” he said. “Like I hit it really solid. I didn’t hit it really close to the hole a lot, but the shots that didn’t go where I wanted, they still were hit really well, and I felt like they were good shots.”

Thomas felt that with soft conditions, course knowledge didn’t come into play as much as it might in a normal year. Hitting the right spots was key, but perhaps there was less of a premium on placement than there will be in April.

Round 4: Justin Thomas waves after putting on the 15th green for eagle.

Before leaving the Augusta grounds on Saturday night, Thomas indicated that he was aware of – and ready for – the chase he’d need to put on to catch Johnson, who was already four shots ahead of the next-closest player and six shots ahead of Thomas.

“It’s going to take something pretty special for me to have a chance tomorrow, but I know I can do it,” he said. “It’s just about doing it.”

Thomas started that effort a little late. He bogeyed the par-5 second hole out of the gate and didn’t make his first birdie until No. 8. He added another at No. 12, but by the time he eagled the 15th, it was too little, too late.

“I hit four great golf shots on 1 and made par,” he said. “Yeah, I mean, you just can’t bogey two in the scenario I was in. No, I didn’t hit the ball very well to start, and any time I had a birdie chance, I didn’t hit a very good iron shot. Then I found a little bit of rhythm on the back nine.”