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Justin Thomas’ high school coach tells journey from Louisville to Tour

Justin Thomas’ high school coach tells journey from Louisville to Tour

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —Over the course of countless driving range sessions with Justin Thomas over the years, Jack Clare noticed a theme. Not only was Thomas, then his teammate at St. Xavier, consistently stellar, owning every shot – and shot shape – a golfer could want. But he was mind-numbingly consistent. When Thomas arrived at the range, he’d immediately grab two bags of golf balls; one bag, Clare remembers, inevitably would be dedicated solely to Thomas’ wedges. Each swing of Thomas’ club sent each ball nearly identical distances.

“He was so good,” Clare said. “He could just do things that no one else could do. And you’d be like, ‘OK.’ You wouldn’t be surprised after a while. It became normal.”

What was ordinary for Thomas might as well have been impossible for others. Just ask another St. X teammate, Luke Jones. Taking lessons from Mike Thomas, Justin’s father, Jones partook in practice rounds with the younger Thomas from time to time at the family’s home course, Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen. During those practice rounds, Mike Thomas urged Jones to pick Justin’s brain.

But there was a disconnect.

“There have been several times where (Justin) would tell me to stop for a second and say, ‘OK, let’s think about this shot one more time. Have you thought about punching out over the trees instead (of) punching out into the fairway sideways?’” Jones said. “Which was a great point.

“But at the same time, I would look at him like, ‘I can’t hit that shot. You can.’”

As the younger Thomas prepares to return to Louisville for this year’s PGA Championship, which will be contested May 16-19 at Valhalla Golf Club, those who knew him during his sparkling high school career at St. X reflect on the player they knew then, the accomplishments that followed – and his quest to return to the pinnacle of professional golf.

Two-time PGA Champion Justin Thomas was honored with a Hometown Hero banner in Louisville, Kentucky on May 7, 2024.

‘Giving himself opportunities’

Dan Utley joked the biggest change he saw in Thomas during the golfer’s time at St. X was his physical transformation. Thomas started high school “100 pounds, soaking wet,” Utley noted.

“And he left 140 pounds, soaking wet,” said Utley, who was Thomas’ coach from 2007 through 2011, when he graduated.

Joking aside, Utley said Thomas’ most noticeable improvement was course management.

“We always talked…


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