BROOKLINE — Justin Thomas’s 319-yard drive on the fourth hole Saturday quickly took a turn — or rather a roll — for the worst.
The shot went several extra feet after it landed, but couldn’t have stopped any closer to a drain on the fairway. Thomas knew the awkward lie would affect his next shot, but he also knew he wouldn’t hit the drain in the process.
“I felt like I very easily could have told [the rules official] that I was going to [hit the drain] and gotten a free drop, but I wasn’t,” said Thomas.
Instead, Thomas played the ball from where it was, hitting a pitching wedge from 100 yards into a bunker, and went on to bogey the hole.
The scene was a microcosm of the 29-year-old’s rough week at the US Open.
Thomas is 3 over par and tied for 25th entering Sunday’s final round. Only on Thursday did he shoot under par (69); he posted a 2-over 72 on each day that followed.
Thomas also found trouble on No. 6, posting a bogey for the second day in a row. He bogeyed five holes on Saturday.
After winning his second PGA Championship last month, Thomas was expected to be in the running at The Country Club. He’s ranked fifth in the world and is a two-time major winner.
But Thomas lamented the way things went down on the fourth hole.
“It’s unfortunate because it was a great drive,” said Thomas. “It’s very clear that my stance and where my ball was was altered and sitting bad because of that drain, but didn’t get a drop from it. That’s just how it is. You have to be able to hit the drain to get a drop.”
He also knew he could have taken advantage of the situation.
“That’s what pisses me off, because so many other people would lie about being able to hit that,” he said.
Now, facing an early tee time and something spectacular to contend, he can only hope the leaderboard doesn’t get too far away from him.
“Hopefully I can get hot tomorrow and then go post a number and give them a score to look at for a couple of hours,” he said. “Selfishly, for my sake, hopefully they can stay within striking distance because this is a great place to post.”
Jayna Bardahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.