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Thomas tames Winged Foot in search for second career major

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (Reuters) - Winged Foot has humbled many great golfers in the past but Justin Thomas was not intimidated by its brutal reputation as he breezed through the U.S. Open first round on Thursday with barely a scratch.

Sep 17, 2020; Mamaroneck, New York, USA; Justin Thomas lines up a putt on the first green during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot Golf Club - West. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Open is known as the toughest test in golf but for world number three Thomas his day looked more like a walk in the park as a five-under-par 65 marked his lowest first-round score in a major and gave him the early clubhouse lead.

“I just was sticking to my routine and playing every shot, as opposed to getting ahead of myself,” Thomas told reporters.

“It’s one of those rounds where it’s just kind of like, next thing you know, you make the putt on 18, you’re done for the day.”

Thomas has just one top-10 finish in five U.S. Open starts but arrived at Winged Foot brimming with confidence as he is fresh off a 2019-20 season in which he earned three PGA Tour wins and finished runner-up at the Tour Championship.

The U.S. Open is defined by narrow fairways, thick rough and firm greens but Thomas was unrattled by the layout and took full advantage of his early tee time as there was little wind to deal with and the course was softer.

“It’s still Winged Foot. You’ve still got to hit the shots,” said Thomas. “That kind of was my game plan going into the week is that, yeah, I need to respect the course, but if I’m driving it well and playing well, I do need to try to make some birdies,

and that’s exactly what we did today.”

Although Thomas, whose lone major title came at the 2017 PGA Championship, was able to get off to a fast start he does not feel like he has a big advantage.

“It’s helpful with three days left, but it’s not even remotely close to being over,” said Thomas.

“As great of a round and fun as it was, it’s over with now, and I need to get over it because I got 54 more holes to try to play well and shoot some good scores.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond

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