CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Justin Thomas will be playing this weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship, thanks in part to a little help from his good buddy Rickie Fowler.
After struggling with his putter during an opening-round 73 on Thursday, a frustrated Thomas went to his backup putter on the practice green. When that didn’t feel right in his hands, he sought out more desperate measures — calling his playing partner Fowler to ask if he’d brought an extra putter to Quail Hollow.
He was in luck. Fowler had two spares.
“Even my backup felt so bad in my hands, I just had to do something else,” Thomas said.
So, using a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter that reads “Rickie Fowler” on it, Thomas shot 69 on Friday, leaving him safely inside the cut line. He was even par for the tournament, seven strokes behind leader Peter Malnati entering the final 36 holes.
“I didn’t actually see him until about 10 minutes before our tee time and he said he was going with it,” Fowler said. “I told him after he hit his first tee shot, ‘Well, you’re kind of stuck now.’”
Fowler said he noticed Thomas had more confidence.
“It was good to see him roll it better with it,” Fowler said. “I thought he made some good strokes out there. I never want to get in the way of his putting or whatever he’s doing, but we always try and help each other out. He made a lot better strokes.”
Thomas won the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow last year and figured to be among the favorites to take home the $1.2 million prize.
He’s still a factor entering the weekend along with Fowler, who is one shot ahead of him.
Thomas plans to use the putter the rest of the tournament if he continues to putt well, which is just fine with Fowler.
But what if he wants to keep it for good?
“Keep it?” Fowler said with a laugh. “Well, he only lives a few hundred yards down the street (in Jupiter, Florida), so it won’t be too far away. But if he keeps making putts, I might have to take it back. ... If he wants to keep using it, keep using it, but he’s stuck with having my name on the back of it.”
That’s just fine with Thomas, as long as he’s holing putts.
“I putted so terribly” in the first round, Thomas said. “It was that desperate in terms of how I was feeling over the putter.”