Justin Thomas loves Pebble Beach, even though he has not played a tournament there since the 2019 U.S. Open.
The reason behind that has been the PGA Tour’s schedule, not because he dislikes the course. But since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a Signature Event in 2024, Thomas could not skip it this time around.
And he believes he has a strong chance at victory this week.
“I like the layout. It’s a place where I know I can make a lot of birdies,” Thomas said of Pebble Beach Tuesday.
“I think it plays to a strength in my game in terms of distance control and being able to take spin off of the ball with short irons into these very spinny, severe greens. That’s something I enjoy doing.”
Pebble Beach has the smallest greens out of any course on the PGA Tour. They also have more undulations than most, creating problems for many players every year. This week’s soft conditions will compound those issues for the field, as Pebble’s poa annua greens will be even tricker to conquer.
Thomas sees that as an advantage for him. His otherworldly short game from inside 100 yards should give him an edge this week.
“It’s obviously very situational on how it plays in terms of whether it’s firm or like it is now. It plays incredibly different during the U.S. Open in June than it does for this tournament this time of year,” Thomas said of the conditions.
“So it plays quite a bit easier, shorter, it’s not as necessary to hit it to the fat part of the green. You can get away with more when it’s this soft. But still, the greens are very, very small… they will be a little bumpier, going to be harder to make putts.”
Thomas missed the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open, carding two rounds of 2-over 73 to finish at 4-over for the championship.
His only other start at Pebble Beach came at the 2014 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he also missed the cut. Thomas did not break 70 and finished at 2-over par.
Despite that, the two-time major champion arrives in Monterey full of confidence after a disastrous 2023 season. He recently tied for third at The American Express, his best finish at an official PGA Tour event since the 2022 RBC Canadian Open.
Over his last four worldwide events, Thomas quietly finished in the top five in each of those starts. He gained more than one shot per round on the field on approach shots in those tournaments, an attribute required to succeed at Pebble Beach.
“I‘m very close. I think, at this point, it’s just starting to win tournaments again,” Thomas said.
“I feel like I’m very, very close to doing that and starting to do it often again. But I fully understand that just because you think that doesn’t mean you deserve it, or it will happen. I need to keep putting myself in that position and getting in contention.”