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Justin Thomas, still searching for a top ten in the Open, isn’t having any of the discussion that the Old Course isn’t worthy of an Open anymore.
The Old Course gave the American, the current US PGA champion, an interesting opportunity. Despite walking the course for two days with two-time St Andrews Open winner Tiger Woods – taking in all the advice Woods could, and did, pass on – the fireworks just didn’t happen.
The Old Lady has yielded many birdies, but Thomas couldn’t grab enough to be in the mix.
His best finish remains a T11 in 2019 at Portrush.
The stroke average for the field was under par for a second consecutive round yesterday, the third time in Opens at St Andrews that the stroke average has been under par for two consecutive rounds.
To protect scoring on a course that is flirting dangerously with modern equipment, the R&A got aggressive with pins.
US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick said he was “not a fan” of the set-up and bemoaned bad bounces, saying the R&A were tucking pins because it was the only thing they could do.
Thomas wasn’t having any of that.
“It’s perfect in terms of set-up,” he said. “But if you get greedy, it can be hard to get par. I love this tournament, arguably more than any of the other ones. I don’t understand.. I get that it’s shorter, but any Open. The cut is even par on a course that’s 6,500 yards. It has held it own. It’s one of the those courses, if we get good weather, we’re going to tear it to pieces. The good part about this week is that there’s been a bit of wind and they’ve been able to set some challenging pins, and when the greens are rolling at 9 and 10, you can do that.
“It’s not unfair, it’s just difficult. I thought the R&A did an unbelievable job setting up the course this week.”
The 29-year-old finished his week at the 150th Open by going out in 33, which included a brilliant eagle at the fifth – but the finish was typical of his experience at St Andrews.
He leaked one out of bounds on 14 for a double, then dropped another at the Road Hole.
“Stuff like that just doesn’t happen when you’re in the groove or in contention.”
A birdie on 18 after hitting it pin high saw him finish with a birdie for a two-under 70.
“It’s scary how easily I could or should be in contention,” he said. “Today, 18 summed it up perfectly. I hit a good drive up there, easy putt… and had two sprinkler heads in my way. Bones and I just looked at each other and laughed. It was very fitting way for the week to end. It was just a weird week.”
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