Two-time major winner Justin Thomas has enjoyed many happy Saturdays of golf. The third round at the 2022 US Open is unlikely to rank among them.
The writing was perhaps on the wall before the 29-year-old had even struck his first competitive ball of the day at The Country Club.
“From Louisville, Kentucky – Justin Thompson,” the tee box announcer mistakenly called as Thomas prepared for his opening drive, prompting a bemused reaction from the American.
Following a solid start of three consecutive pars, confusion made way for fury at the fourth hole when Thomas’ tee shot settled at the cusp of a drain in the center of the fairway.
Not afforded a drop, Thomas proceeded to play the ball as it lay, with his errant shot sailing into a bunker well short of the green.
Looking down at the drain in disgust before the ball had even landed, to say the American was displeased would be an understatement.
“That’s what pisses me off because so many other people would lie about being able to hit that, but it’s just like, ‘I’m not gonna hit it’” Thomas could be heard saying on Sky Sports’ broadcast.
“I’m just trying to be a good f***ing person. F***ing b******t.”
Thomas subsequently bogeyed the hole, finishing the day with a two-over 72 that leaves him three-over par heading into Sunday’s final round.
Typically, a golfer can only receive a drop ball if the lie is affecting their stance or the line of their swing. Discussing the incident, Thomas said he had called an official to get a ruling on the shot, but – believing he would not hit the drain – decided against asking for a free drop “in the spirit of the game.”
“I felt like I very easily could have told her that I was going to [hit the drain] and gotten a free drop,” Thomas told reporters.
“It’s very clear that my stance was altered and sitting bad because of that drain,” he added.
It is not the first unconventional shot seen in Brookline this week. On Friday, MJ Daffue ensured a group of lucky fans got their money’s worth when he hit a sensational shot from the carpet of the hospitality tent.
Not wanting to take a drop penalty, the South African blasted his drive past a tree, a concession stand, and a mass of spectators towards the fourth hole.
For Thomas, having opened with a promising 69 on Thursday, back-to-back 72’s leave the American needing to make up seven strokes to draw level with compatriot Will Zalatoris, who lead the field on his return to the clubhouse.
A 15-time winner on the PGA Tour, Thomas is chasing his second major triumph of the year after winning his second PGA Championship title in May. His best finish at the US Open came in 2018 when he tied for eighth.