JT, two back, striking it well but still has to deal with the Poa

JT, two back, striking it well but still has to deal with the Poa

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Following one of the strangest years of his career, Justin Thomas has been encouraged by his ball-striking to start this season, including a sublime tee-to-green performance Friday at Pebble Beach Golf Links to move to within two shots of the lead.

Thomas is second in the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green, which is more in line with his career totals.

“I'm plenty comfortable enough and playing well enough to win. It's just about doing it and getting myself in contention more often and kind of feeling those feelings again,” he said following his second-round 67. “Just continue to keep playing well and just keep working on the things I'm working on and just trying to not make the game any harder than it is.”

Thomas’ putting, however, has not been as encouraging; although like most players in the field, he attributed his struggles on the greens (he’s 63rd in the field of 80 players in strokes gained: putting) to the unique challenges of putting on Poa annua grass greens.

“To be perfectly honest, I know of a handful of guys that have avoided some of these West Coast tournaments on Poa because of how much it messes with your head,” Thomas said. “A lot of really, really good putters — it will make you feel like you're putting bad.

“Anything can happen on Poa annua. The ball bounces so much, especially when they're this soft. Everybody has to deal with it, and for me I've tried to stay really, really patient.”