Despite being one of the PGA Tour’s big-hitters, Justin Thomas has revealed he does not feel it is a prerequisite for success ahead of the 2021 season.
The 27-year-old won the PGA Championship back in 2017 and has 13 tours wins to his name. He has proven himself to be one of the distance kings, but in a recent interview, he explained how he doesn’t feel that hitting a bomb is necessarily something a champion needs to worry about.
“I think the fact that three guys have won multiple times this year being outside the top 100 in distance just proves yet again that you don’t need distance,” said the Louisville-born player. “Yeah, it’s helpful, but it makes me cringe, and it really bothers me when whoever says that you know, the golf ball or everything needs to be rolled back because there’s plenty of people that are still performing well that don’t hit it as far.”
Brendon Todd is a classic example of a player who achieves success without smashing the ball too far. The 35-year-old has seven professional tournament wins, three of those coming on the PGA Tour. He claimed the HP Byron Nelson Championship in 2014 and followed that with victory in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial not long after. In November 2019, he shot an impressive nine-under 62, including seven straight front-nine birdies, to win the Bermuda Championship.
Those victories all came despite him averaging just 281 yards off the tee, ranking outside the top 200 on Tour. He is currently ranked 42 in the world, thus proving you do not have to be a big hitter.
“It is quite an interesting stat,” Thomas said of those winning tournaments despite being outside the top 100 hitters. “I loved it when I saw it because that just kind of proves yet again that length is not the answer. It is just helpful. Still got to get the ball in the hole.”
Thomas himself is one of the game’s big hitters, having provided the longest drive in recent history last year. In a graphic published by Bwin, it shows Thomas is the fifth biggest-hitter of all time following his 457-yard drive on Hole 10 of the WGC-Mexico Championship in early 2019. He averaged 302.2 yards in 2019, leaving him 37th in the drive ranking. The longest hitter that season was Cameron Champ, averaging 317.9 yards.
The biggest drive ever on the Tour came in 2004 when Davis Love III made 476 yards in the Mercedes Championship. His average drive that season was a little over 300 yards, ranking him 11th overall.
Thomas has got off to a successful start following the resumption of action in 2020. In early August, he lifted the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational title at TPC Southwind in Tennessee by three strokes, despite trailing second-round leader Todd by seven strokes at one point. He led Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Daniel Berger, and Tom Lewis by three strokes at the end of play, although Lewis certainly made a game of it: he trailed Todd by 14 strokes after two rounds.
The win earned Thomas prize money of $1.7m, with Todd and the others taking $695,000 each, big hitters or not.