Justin Thomas holds first PGA Tour lead in over 2 years at Scottish Open

For the first time in a long time, Justin Thomas sits atop a PGA Tour leaderboard.

He carded a beautiful 8-under 62, a round that featured eight birdies and eight pars, to soar to the top of the Genesis Scottish Open leaderboard after round one. Remarkably, Thomas has not held at least a share of the lead at the end of a round since the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, where he defeated Will Zalatoris in a thrilling playoff. Golf statistician Justin Ray provided this eye-popping stat after Thomas’ round.

“It’s always good to get off to a good start and even better to get off to a great one. I felt like I was in great control of everything. When I missed it, I missed it in the right spots and had a lot of really quality shots,” Thomas said Thursday.

“Like any golfer, I would have loved to finish those last five holes a little bit better, but I played really, really solid today, and that par putt on 17 was huge. I love going bogey-free, so that was nice. I would have had a different taste in my mouth walking off 18.”

Thomas had it going for him, especially on the front nine, where he made five birdies. He made a nice three on the par-4 1st, a harbinger of things to come, as the former Alabama star rolled his par-breaker in from 13 feet.

Four consecutive birdies followed on holes five through eight, and suddenly, Thomas found himself towards the top of the leaderboard when he turned to the back nine.

Three more birdies followed on the 10th, 12th, and 13th, as Thomas made a 42-foot bomb on the par-3 12th.

“I’m confident when I get in that mode,” Thomas explained.

“Obviously, this is as easy as you’re going to get a links golf course weather-wise and in terms of conditions. When you drive it well like I did for the most part, you have a lot of short clubs, and I see nothing but the pin. You have opportunities to get the ball close with some slopes, but if I have a good number, for the most part, I’m trying to figure out how I can hit it as close as possible. I’m not scared to do so.”

Thomas hit it close numerous times, as five of his eight birdies came from within six feet. He was dialed in all day until he hit a borderline shank on the par-5 16th. But he still managed to two-putt for par, a testament to how well he played Thursday.

The two-time major winner holds a one-shot lead over Sungjae Im going into Friday’s round. Whether he can keep up this high level of play remains to be seen, but it would not surprise anyone to see him lurk toward the top of the leaderboard throughout the weekend. He has quietly done that plenty of times throughout 2024, most recently tying for fifth at the Travelers Championship. But he has yet to record a win since Southern Hills, and Thomas will not be fully satisfied with himself and his game until he snaps this two-year drought.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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