[PHOTO: Christian Petersen]

Justin Thomas opened the WM Phoenix Open with a 69 but struggled on the greens, losing more than a stroke to the field to rank 99th in strokes gained/putting for the round. In the short time between the end of his first round and start of his second, Thomas called upon his old Scotty Cameron by Titleist MODEL putter he first put into play in 2016.

“It was more of a setup thing than anything,” Thomas said after the second round. “I think my hands were getting a little behind it and ‘Bones’ (caddie Jim Mackay) mentioned something and it was something my dad saw earlier in the week, too, so I just put a little bit more of an emphasis on that and really just tried to get good speed and made some nice ones.”

I spoke with Thomas in 2017 and got the backstory on the putter.

“Anytime you go to the Studio and work with Scotty Cameron and Paul Vizanko, you learn something new every time,” Thomas said. “It’s an unbelievable experience. It’s really fun. You walk out of there with more knowledge than when you go in there. I feel like I leave having something good to work on with my putting and my mechanics. It’s not just looking at different putters. You’re looking at what putters are going to give you the best roll and bring out your best stroke, what’s the right weight. I was struggling a little bit with my stroke and I wanted to try something different. I just kind of picked [the mallet-style Futura X 5.5] up and it felt kinda good.

“This was a totally different look for me. I’ve used a Newport 2 style for basically my entire life. I had used a Cameron Fastback model during my year on the Web.com Tour for about 85 percent of the season but other than that it’s been a Newport 2, so it was a completely different look.”

Different back then, familiar now. Thomas went on to shoot 65 in the second round and eventually finished T-12 while getting on the plus side of the ledger in putting.

“I have full faith I would have putted the same with the other putter,” he said. “But there’s something about using something you’re comfortable with.”

Indeed there is.