This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.
The year was not even three months old and Justin Thomas had already been hit with three haymakers. Granted, one of them was self-inflicted, but it had clearly thrown him off his world-class game.
Thomas spoke in the days leading up THE PLAYERS Championship that the past couple months had been a time to "grow and learn" after he was caught uttering a homophobic slur in Hawaii. That was followed in short order by the passing of his beloved grandfather and the serious accident involving one of his best friends, Tiger Woods. All of it, collectively, had "taken a toll on my golf," he said.
And midway through the second round at TPC Sawgrass, that toll was still taking. Sitting outside the cut line, Thomas steadied on the back nine, then put on a show for the ages on the weekend to capture THE PLAYERS by one stroke over bridesmaid-yet-again Lee Westwood. Seven strokes off the lead entering Saturday, Thomas shot 64-68 to tie the tournament's closing 36-hole scoring mark.
How much had Thomas been affected by all that was going on in his life? Well, he is ranked outside the top 100 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee after being top-25 the past two years. And he had not had a top-10 in his four starts between Kapalua and Sawgrass, with two of them being missed cuts. That may not sound like much, but you'd have to go back to the middle of 2019 to find four straight starts