Justin Thomas after a month without playing

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Justin Thomas after a month without playing
Justin Thomas after a month without playing © Logan Whitton / Getty Images Sport

Justin Thomas had an irregular first day afternoon, posting a three-under 69 on his return to the PGA Tour after a long break, which left him six strokes off the lead in the Fortinet Championship. Thomas, the former world number 1, winner of two majors (both PGA) and who was chosen by American captain Zach Johnson for the Ryder Cup, hoped to improve his game in a final tune-up, but he was not so good in the Silverado Resort in Napa (California) as expected.

Justin Thomas, results

Playing for the first time since he finished 12th at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro in early August, Thomas made four birdies and one bogey. He finished tied for 20th, chasing Lucas Herbert, the leader after a great 63 (-9).

"Sometimes after a time off I find it hard to get back into the game, but I didn't feel too rusty competitively speaking," said Thomas, who took three of 14 fairways. Herbert, who took a seven-week mental break without playing, returned much stronger than Thomas.

Herbert made 10 birdies - seven on his last nine holes - for an initial bogey. Seong Hyeon Kim from South Korea is currently in second place behind Herbert with 65. American Kelly Kraft is third 66 together with fellow countrymn Jason Dufner, Zac Blair and Mark Hubbard, as well as England's Harry Hall and South-Korea's Sung Kang.

Max Homa, the two-time champion here, defending Fortinet champion and member of the US Ryder Cup team, had to endure a tough morning with a double bogey and a bogey on his way to joining Thomas in the 69. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson also shot 69.

Vice-captain Stewart Cink, who was the winner here back in 2020, scored a 71. Herbert, a 27-year-old Australian, is ranked 59th in the world rankings. He entered the FedEx Fall 152nd in points. The top 125 players after seven tournaments this fall will retain their full PGA Tour cards for 2024.

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