I posted something about Justin Thomas last March, a posting which I’ve since removed because of the grumpy tone (I was annoyed by the constant references to his being “pound for pound the longest driver on Tour”), but what I said about his long distance driving was mentioned by Brandel Chamblee in the post Round 3 “Live From” on Golf Channel.
Chamblee showed a graphic that illustrated how Thomas gets it done, and that has to do with impact conditions over raw club impact speed.
Grumpiness in my March posting notwithstanding, I didn’t manage to grab the graphic in Chamblee’s presentation yesterday, but here’s what I had said last March:
From Original Posting:
Now, look at the club impact speed and ball speed of the drive, from his Instagram account, presented as proof of JT’s awesomeness:
What impresses me, to be honest, is the +5.3 attack angle – there’s your proof that if you want to drive the ball far, you want a positive attack angle, and this one is impressive.
You also want low spin, and <2000 rpm will certainly qualify!
Really, really good driver numbers. Looks like a power fade too.
120 mph club impact speed (pretty good, but not mind-blowing), and 178 mph ball speed, also pretty good but nowhere near jaw-drop territory… so anyone who hits a drive with 120/178 and similar launch numbers will drive it the same distances, regardless of height, weight, hair and eye color or what they had for breakfast.
** Edit Note – keep in mind that the above drive was hit at altitude in Mexico City – so take off 10% and it’s a 320 carry at lower elevations, but still impressive!
If you have a positive Angle of Attack (hitting “up” with the driver instead of “down” as with an iron or wedge), with low spin, you are going to drive it long, especially with 120 mph club impact speed.
That’s the plain truth – it doesn’t have anything to do with JT’s flying left foot, which is something I’ve pointed out before as the product of his weight shift on the down swing (he doesn’t transfer to the left foot at impact, because of the anchored right foot), it has to do with his launch numbers, which are superb.
There are long hitters and short hitters who have the flying foot, but it’s not a magic power-producing move – the magic is how JT gets those numbers on the launch monitor, and if you can get the same or similar numbers, you’ll make magic as well.
Justin Thomas has to be my favorite right now, following that 9 under 3rd round of 63 yesterday – the only concern I would have is that the “flying foot” move requires timing and coordination, and long hitters with that move can hit it anywhere when they’re off.
Big pressure day, and if JT can keep that driver in the fairway, he’ll be tough to beat.
However, he’s still going off in 2nd, one back of Brian Harman, and tied with Brooks Koepka, another long hitter, with Rickie Fowler lurking at -10 and Si Woo Kim at -9.
There will be big pressure on all of these guys going for their first major win today, so the only prediction I can confidently make is that one – if he hits it straight today, I’d go with Thomas for the win.
He’ll be playing with Brian Harman, who is 120th in driving distance, so we’ll see some big discrepancies between the two off the tee.
Should be an interesting day!