Former Crimson Tide golfer Justin Thomas back into Masters contention

Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

On Friday in Augusta, GA, former Alabama Crimson Tide golfer, Justin Thomas climbed back into contention. Thomas went into Thursday’s first round of The Masters with the second-best odds to win the tournament.

Thursday did not go well for Thomas. He shot a four-over-par round of 76. The disappointing score put Thomas in a tie for 70th place. When he teed off Friday afternoon, Justin’s first goal had to be making the 36-hole cut. He accomplished that and more.

Wind was a factor for the players on Friday, with gusts sometimes exceeding 20 mph. Augusta National is a tricky course on a calm day. When the wind blows, it can swirl unpredictably on some of the toughest holes. On Friday, Augusta National’s Par Four, Hole No. 11, was nothing like its serene name, White Dogwood. It played 520 yards straight into a brisk wind, with gusts. A couple of not-mishit, second shots came up 40 yards short.

Fighting those Friday conditions, only six players posted rounds below 70. Two shot 67 and one was Thomas along with the second-round leader, Scottie Sheffler.

Thomas’ 67 took him to minus-1. Sheffler’s 67 vaulted him into a five-shot lead at minus-8. Between Thomas and Sheffler going into Saturday are four guys at minus-2 and four more at minus-3.

Can Justin Thomas Win?

A quick answer is absolutely Thomas can win. In 1978, Gary Player started the final round, seven shots back. He won with a 64, including seven birdies in the last 10 holes. But history is on the side of Scottie Sheffler.

Sheffler is one of the least experienced professionals in the Masters field. He is also ranked No. 1 in the world, having already won three tournaments this season. The three wins are his only PGA Tour victories and they came in his last five tour events. Sheffler and Thomas were teammates on the 2020 winning USA Ryder Cup team.

Sheffler looked unbeatable on Friday. Thomas had to work much harder. On the famous Par 5, 13th hole, Thomas jerked his driver 223 yards into an unplayable lie. The shot was ugly enough to resemble what duffers call a ‘duck hook.’ Thomas made a par anyway, after a sensational 45-yard fourth shot.

On the Par 5, 15th he ripped his second shot to within 15 feet. The eagle putt missed but it became his fifth birdie of the day. On the Par 3, 16th, he flirted with an ace, followed by a less than two-foot, birdie finish.

Thomas will likely need two more rounds in the 60s for a chance to win. Sheffler may run away with it, but he has never contended in a Major. It has been said thousands of times but bears repeating, The Masters begins on the back nine on Sunday.

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Notables who failed to make the cut in the 2022 Masters included Jordan Spieth; Brooks Koepka; Xander Schauffele; Justin Rose and Bryson DeChambeau, along with eight others who are former Masters Champions.