PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Justin Thomas knew his club might break if he tried to play a shot from behind a tree on the par-4 10th hole at PGA National during the opening round of the Honda Classic on Thursday.
He hit it anyway.
The ball landed in a greenside bunker and he went on to make bogey. His 9-iron came out even worse for wear after taking out chunks of the tree on the follow through.
“Being behind a tree got a little stymied there, and I thought the way the club was going to hit the tree it was just going to break,” he said. “Being at home, I was like, all right, I just have to avoid a 9-iron the rest of the day.”
The club didn’t break – instead it just sent a shock up Thomas’ left arm – but it did bend.
Under the new Rules of Golf, Thomas wasn’t allowed to replace it. He was allowed to keep using and/or repair the club, but that was a futile effort.
“It was bent, yeah,” he said. “That’s the thing, we don’t know how much loft is put on it [after being bent]. To me it looks a little bit flatter and it looks like it has a decent bit more loft, so it’s definitely not a 9-iron.
One hole later, he could have used a 9-iron. He was 164 yards from the green and instead was forced to reach for a wedge. Thomas gave it all he had, he said, and he reached the green and two-putted from 12 feet for par.
“You can just add that one to the list of rules that don’t make any sense,” said Thomas, who went on to shoot two-under 68. . “But no, that’s the thing. If it was in the shaft, I could have tried to bend it, but it literally was right at the hosel, and I tried to step on it, tried to do everything I could, but again, I just — you can see it when you look at it, but it’s just — it wasn’t worth the risk of hitting it and not knowing what’s going to happen.”
It was a busy day for the rules committee. Earlier in the afternoon, Alex Cejka became the first player to be disqualified under the new rule over green-reading books.
As for Thomas?
“Just kind of ice my wrist a little bit tonight,” he said. “It’ll be fine, but I think it was just more of a shock than anything.”