The best part about team sports is the fact that certain athletes have the ability to lift up teammates who struggle to meet the moment.
That was the wildest part about the Justin Thomas “drama” headed into this Ryder Cup. JT is the American golfer most comfortable under the gun. The awful run of golf we’ve seen from him over the last 18 months doesn’t change that fact.
In team events, when golf is at its most stressful, Justin Thomas can find comfort.
That was the case on Friday afternoon when Thomas and Jordan Speith got their opportunity to compete after sitting out the morning session.
Jordan Spieth wasn’t a complete zero on Friday. He did a lot of his work early, making birdies on No. 4, No. 5, and No. 11, but after that last birdie Spieth disappeared, leaving JT to do the dirty work on the way in against the hottest golfer on Earth.
Spieth’s golf ball didn’t see the end of the final four holes, meaning the entire finale of a match where the Americans absolutely had to get half a point was on the shoulders of a guy who had missed five cuts in his last nine starts and had shot more rounds in the 80s in major championships this year than rounds under par.
Justin Thomas wasn’t perfect on Friday. He missed very makeable putts on 16 and 17 that would have, in theory, locked up a full point for the Americans. But, with his partner out of holes during the most stressful parts of the match, Thomas did enough to produce something, which was huge for ZJ and his squad.
A 2021 Justin Thomas probably makes the shorty on 16 or the birdie putt on 17, but the JT that the Americans have right now did enough on Friday to carry his partner who couldn’t find the club face.
On a day that leaves the Americans in a huge hole, it was Justin Thomas who played his role to near perfection.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.