Justin Thomas is one of the most recognized golfers on the planet, with the American a two-time Major winner and multiple-time Ryder Cup player. However, despite a superb match play record at both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, it comes as somewhat of a surprise that the 29-year-old is skipping the only Match Play tournament on the PGA Tour calendar.
Being played for the final time, it’s unclear as to what the future of the WGC Match Play holds, with PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, hinting that a match play event could return to their schedule at some point. For now though, a star line-up is set to take place at Austin Country Club, with Thomas and Justin Rose the only two eligible players skipping the event.
Speaking at the Valspar Championship, Thomas revealed his love for this week’s venue, but his thoughts on Austin are slightly different. “(Innisbrook) is a place I love. I really, really love the golf course. I just I feel like I have a really good chance to win there if I go play. I just, I simply don’t feel that way about Austin Country Club,” stated the American, before adding: “It’s nothing against the course; I’ve just, I’ve played it six times and I’ve played it really bad five of them.
“So, I just felt like it was a better decision for me to go to a place where I, at least, had some positivity and felt like I had a much better chance to win than going to an elevated event, a huge event, being the Match Play, but knowing that I’ve had no success except for kind of—I would hate to call it a fluke year, but one year. And I didn’t really want to take three weeks off before the Masters.”
Usually, the Match Play sees the World’s Top 64 taking part but, due to LIV players being banned from PGA Tour events, and Thomas and Rose deciding not to play, Justin Suh, who is the World No. 77 will be the final man in the field. Beginning on Wednesday, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and defending champion, Scottie Scheffler, will be present.
The format of the tournament will include 16 groups of four battling it out on the first three days, with a win securing one point, a tied match being half a point and a loss being no points. From there, the players who finish top of their groups will move on to the knockout stage, with the winner crowned on Sunday.