HONOLULU – In some sports, it’s called “the zone,” that mode where the mind lets go and the artist takes over.
At last year’s Sony Open, Justin Thomas spent four days fearlessly rewriting the record books on his way to a commanding victory that completed the Aloha Slam following his triumph at the year’s first event in Maui.
Thomas’ statistical line from the ’17 Sony Open is filthy. He became the eighth player to shoot a sub-60 round on the PGA Tour on Day 1, then set 36- and 72-hole Tour scoring records (he only tied the circuit’s 54-hole record). He went wire-to-wire and won by seven strokes.
It was effortless, flawless and, yes, maybe even a little mindless, particularly for a player who freely admits that there are weeks on Tour when his mind is consumed by all the things sports psychologists say are performance killers.
Weeks like last week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where Thomas finished 22nd out of 34 players.
“When I was in 30th place last week, I wasn’t exactly feeling great. I’m being perfectly honest. It’s such a weird game. I was embarrassed,” he admitted on Wednesday at Waialae Country Club. “I was just in a very emotional state last week, and there’s weeks that I’m like that, and there’s weeks that I’m not. Obviously, I want to get rid of it, but just every little thing really just pissed me off.”
Thomas would never be considered stoic, and he is one of the circuit’s most out-going players on social media; it stands to reason that there is a correlation between his play and the natural ebb and flow of his emotions.
Last year’s opening round in Honolulu is perhaps the most obvious example.
Thomas began his day with an eagle at the par-4 10th hole and made the turn at 6 under par. He added birdies at Nos. 1 and 2 and arrived at the par-5 ninth, his last hole of the day, needing an eagle to shoot 59.
From 14 feet, Thomas calmly rolled in the eagle attempt and then froze.
Content credit to Golfchannel