After his wretched run of form this season, which saw him miss the FedEx Cup Playoffs, this was the perfect answer to those who scoffed at Thomas’ ability to flick the switch and inspire the stars and stripes. Now, it’s safe to consider Thomas as the USA’s answer to Ian Poulter, routinely rising to the occasion and refusing to hide.
This was far from a soft introduction after sitting during the foursomes, despite a formidable record when playing for the USA with Spieth. Thomas, who had a 7-1-0 record overall with Spieth in match-play and 4-1-0 in foursomes entering today, was quickly given a distraction.
Justin Thomas celebrates after a vital putt on the 15th green in the Ryder Cup 2023
A couple of wayward course officials delayed his tee shot on the sixth, with caddie Jim ‘Bones’ Mackay urging him to focus: “Come on, focus, hit the target.” A birdie would follow and the first sign of mental strength that would define this contest.
Thomas’ father Mike, and long-time coach, shuffled behind him throughout the match, buoyed by his son’s gritty performance. He told the Independent how his son remained “calm” in the minutes between the Friday sessions, eager to prove his worth and value to captain Zach Johnson.
Thomas evidently has the heart to deliver on the biggest stage and now, following such a courageous performance, Johnson will surely roll him out for both remaining team matches.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas on the 11th hole at the Ryder Cup 2023
Elsewhere Jon Rahm cemented his status as Spain’s latest Ryder Cup superstar, proving deadly alongside Tyrrell Hatton in the foursomes with a 4&3 victory over Scottie Scheffler and Sam Burns before a sensational eagle on 16 to snatch half a point against the world number one and five-time major winner Brooks Koepka.
Moments after Rahm’s heroics, Matt Fitzpatrick claimed his first Ryder Cup point after five straight losses, the former US Open champion making four birdies and an eagle in the first six holes to set himself and Rory McIlroy on the way to a 5&3 win over Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.
Max Homa and US Open champion Wyndham Clark looked set to claim a first win for the visitors when they won the 16th to go two up on Justin Rose and Robert MacIntyre, but Rose’s par was enough to win the 17th and the Englishman then birdied the last to cap a stunning finish. It means Luke Donald’s side hold a commanding lead heading into Saturday morning’s foursomes.
PA contributed to this report
Source: Read Full Article