'Fiery' Thomas Finds Form After Making Coaching Changes - Is He Back?

Ryder Cup-bound Justin Thomas may be finding form at just the right time

Justin Thomas Fortinet Championship
Justin Thomas looked more like his old self at the Fortinet Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson will be encouraged by what he saw from one of his wildcard picks at the weekend, with Justin Thomas’ fifth-place finish at the Fortinet Championship suggesting that the two-time Major winner is back to somewhere near his best.

Thomas endured a disappointing year on the PGA Tour in 2023, with the American sliding down the World Rankings and failing to make the FedEx Cup playoffs having finished 71st in the season-long standings.

Despite his struggles, Johnson showed how highly he rates the 30-year-old by naming him as one of his wildcards for biennial showdown that takes place at Marco Simone in Rome at the end of the month.

The big question ahead of the Fortinet Championship, the first tournament of the FedExCup Fall, was whether he felt he owed Johnson a performance in Napa to justify his place on the team.

“Now that I’ve been picked, I don’t have to prove anything,” a defiant Thomas said on the eve of the Fortinet Championship. However, you suspect he’ll be relieved, especially as he admitted the constant questioning around his form had become “annoying”.

Thomas spoke openly about his game and also confirmed a few changes that he has made, specifically around the working relationship with his father and coach, Mike, and how he’s beginning to take more ownership of his swing, something he had got away from.

Thomas said: “I am very lucky to have a team that's very, very involved, but I just think for me personally, I had them there too often to where I became dependent on them and then I just lost all ownership, all accountability to where when things were going wrong. I was looking to them to answer the questions instead of I'm the one that needs to figure it out at some point.”

Thomas’ father remains his coach, although the two-time PGA Championship winner confirmed that he and John Graham, his putting coach, had parted company, a split that he said Graham understood.

Justin Thomas Fortinet Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thomas was also keen to stress how his form was never as bad as some people had been making out, and the reason for his positive display in Napa was the result of several factors, one of which was a change in attitude.

“I'm a fiery, emotional person. I'm going to be pissed off that I hit it way left of the fairway on 18 and I missed the fairway with the layup, but it's just not letting it affect the next shot and the next shot,” he said after his first round.

“I think that's what I did early, middle of last season or even most of the end of the season that ended up hurting me versus these last couple rounds, tournament rounds I've played. I've stayed in it and really just kind of grinded out the best that I could.”

Johnson will be hoping that this passionate player is indeed back in a good place and ready to help America win the Ryder Cup on European soil for the first time since 1993.

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.