Justin Thomas says his game is “pretty average”: should punters avoid him at Memorial?

The American admits he’s struggled in 2021 and has swing issues ahead of this week’s showdown at Muirfield Village.

If writing a one-line summary for each player taking part in this week's Memorial Tournament, Justin Thomas's would go something like this: "World No.2, who won this year's prestigious PLAYERS Championship".

Based on that, Thomas has to be a big contender to win at Muirfield Village.

And yet, as an elite cast prepare to tee off at Jack Nicklaus' event in Ohio, JT is the player at the front of the betting with most doubts hanging over him.

Since his PLAYERS victory at TPC Sawgrass, Thomas has failed to crack the top 10 in six subsequent starts.

During that run he's finished a disappointing tied 21st in the Masters when poised to challenge and missed the cut in the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.

The American is firing on far less than full cylinders and, to his credit, he's honest enough to admit it. There's no sugarcoating of, what for him, are sub-standard results.

Thomas says play is average

This is what JT had to say in Tuesday's press conference when asked about is current play:

"I mean, to be honest, state of my game is not great. I think my play recently has shown that. I've not had a very good calendar year.

"I would say, really just a good weekend at The PLAYERS and I played well there a couple events early in the year, but I just haven't really had any results to show.

"I've been struggling a little bit with my swing and I haven't been near as consistent as I have been in the past, but I feel like I'm not as far off as the results show and then there's some days where I feel really far off.

"But just kind of need a little spark and just kind of get something going, but unfortunately to answer your question, no, everything feels pretty average."

A comparison with Thomas at his best

Starting with the BMW Championship in August 2019 to the WGC-St Jude Invitational in August 2020, Thomas played in 16 tournaments and won four of them. At the start of that sequence he bagged three victories in six events.

Victory at St. Jude took him to World No.1 and that seemed a fair portrayal of just how well he was playing.

But his current ranking of No.2 does not. Thomas is struggling. He's relying on past points in the rolling two-year system to prop him up.

In his last 11 events, Thomas has missed three cuts and made the top 10 just once. True, that was his brilliant Sawgrass win although, even there, it wasn't four days of sustained excellence: rather, a red-hot weekend of 64-68 when he got on a roll to show that he can still be unstoppable when at his best.

The stats behind the contrasting form

Time to compare and contrast JT's numbers in his hot-streak to his current figures:

In total, 14 of the 16 events in his 2019/20 blitz used Strokes Gained while 9 of the 11 during his 2021 slide recorded those measurements. I've listed tournament averages for both, with 2019/20 on the left.

Strokes Gained Off The Tee: 1.816 v 0.794

Strokes Gained Approach: 3.556 v 3.301

Strokes Gained Around The Green: 1.616 v 0.662

Strokes Gained Tee To Green: 6.989 v 4.757

Strokes Gained Putting: 0.683 v -1.007

Not surprisingly, Thomas has worse numbers in every category when comparing his current performances to those of 2019/20.

His driving isn't as good, he's not as sharp around the green and his already average putting figures have gone negative.

While his approach stats are also down, that's the one category which is still holding up quite well. As a result, Thomas is ranked 2nd only to Collin Morikawa on the season-long SG: Approach stats.

One thing worth remembering though is that these are averages. Thomas is very capable of suddenly jumping way beyond these baseline figures.

At early May's Valspar Championship, for example, Thomas nearly trebled his average recent Tee To Green numbers but his putting was horrid (-6.455), meaning he had to settle for tied 13th.

At last week's Charles Schwab Challenge, he gained 2.686 strokes off the tee (nearly four times his 2021 average) but the rest of his game wasn't good enough.

As for the putting, he's at least recorded positive SGP figures in his last two events although they were hardly amazing: 0.709 at Kiawah and 1.369 at the Byron Nelson. In those tournaments, his Approach numbers were modest.

Thomas is in a familiar position to all golfers right now: when something is ironed out, a different problem pops up. It's a relentless game of whack-a-mole.

Do punters listen to Thomas and avoid betting on him?

Here's more from Thomas:

"Honestly, I think I have been trying to tweak too much or look for things. I mean, I'm just trying to keep it as simple as possible. I think it's easy to search for too much or think that I need to find something when I maybe don't, if that makes sense.

"For me, it's right now getting consistency in my driver is something that I'm really focusing on. I've hit more drivers and 3-woods the last month or so than I have in a while.

"Yeah, just continuing to work on everything else, that's the hard part is you can't focus so much on one thing because then the other parts of your game go astray. That's just kind of in the never-ending chase that all of us are a part of out here."

The doubts are obvious. Problem is, these were his words on the eve of The PLAYERS Championship, the tournament where he reminded us of his greatness with a sensational weekend charge to victory.

Thomas has form figures of 18-2-MC-8-4 in his last five starts at this week's course, Muirfield Village, and he's a fan of the new renovations.

While there are plenty of words and numbers to suggest it won't be his week, it would be foolish to write him off at 16/1 (Paddy Power).

READ MORE: Four angles at Muirfield Village: Preview of the Memorial Tournament