Any time a golfer can add another major victory to their mantle, it’s a good year, and that’s what Justin Thomas did in 2022 by claiming the PGA Championship. It wasn’t pretty having to come from behind and beat Will Zalatoris in a playoff at Southern Hills in Tulsa, but that’s now two PGA Championship victories for Thomas (2017).
Despite winning another major, the PGA Championship was Thomas’ only victory of 2021/22, which is surprising for a perpetual betting favorite week in and week out. With such high expectations, the argument could be made that Thomas had an underwhelming season last year, which is why 2023 seems more important than ever for the 29-year-old.
Here are three things we’d like to see from JT in the upcoming calendar year:
Be the Face of the PGA
Thomas is already one of the more popular golfers on the TOUR, but it still seems like there is untapped potential. We are starting to see JT step into his role as the face of the PGA mostly due to exposure.
Thomas won all four of his paired matches with his good friend Jordan Spieth at the Presidents Cup, and that duo also teamed up to beat Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in the latest installment of “The Match.” That 12-hole event in Florida gave a nice glimpse into Thomas’ personality, particularly with his trash talk of Woods and many back and forths with announcer Charles Barkley about the Alabama – Auburn rivalry.
Thomas also recently competed with his father in the PNC Championship, paired with Woods and his son Charlie most of the weekend. Any time you can learn more about somebody’s family and their off-the-course personality separates them from “just being a golfer.”
More Majors Please
Winning the PGA Championship last season was obviously a bright spot for Thomas, but as stated, it was his only victory of the year to go along with third-place finishes at the World Wide Technology Championship, the Valspar, and the RBC Canadian Open.
While McIlroy has been chasing down the “Rory Slam” since 2014, he’s close with a top 10 in seven of his last nine trips to the Masters (including runner-up last year), Thomas has only won his two PGA Championships for major victories. He hasn’t been particularly close in majors either, with a best finish of fourth at Augusta (2020), eighth at the U.S. Open (2020), and 11th at The Open Championship (2019).
Last year wasn’t a particularly strong one at the majors for Thomas, who finished eighth at the Masters, 37th at the U.S. Open, and 53rd at The Open Championship at historic St. Andrews. Thomas is an elite golfer, but it’s about time to start adding more majors to his resume.
Climb the OWGR
With some major victories – or just more wins than one in general – Thomas will start to climb the OWGR, where he currently ranks eighth. Most people are excited for the McIlroy vs. Scottie Scheffler back-and-forth duel for the top spot in the rankings, and the likes of Thomas and Jon Rahm are kind of afterthoughts.
Thomas has gotten a pass because he’s a likable and popular guy, but if you want to be considered elite, one win isn’t going to cut it in 2023 – unless maybe it involves a green jacket.