Struggling Justin Thomas backed heavily ahead of WGC event

Feb 6, 2021; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Justin Thomas plays his tee shot on the ninth hole during round three of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Network

Justin Thomas readily admits he has struggled through a “tough” start to 2021, but it hasn’t discouraged bettors from making him the heaviest-backed player in the field ahead of this week’s World Golf Championships event at The Concession in Bradenton, Fla.

The 73-player event includes the top 15 players in the official world golf rankings. That includes the third-ranked Thomas.

Despite missing two of four cuts this year, including finishing ahead of only two players at last week’s Genesis Invitational, Thomas is being backed by eight percent of the handle at DraftKings. He is tied for the sixth shortest odds at +1800, which has drawn five percent of the total outright winner bets at the sportsbook.

Both numbers lead the field, with Bryson DeChambeau being backed by six percent of the handle and Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka and Viktor Hovland also backed by five percent of the total bets as of Wednesday.

Thomas finished solo third at the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions to begin the year. He wrapped a T13 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open with a pair of missed cuts.

“I don’t know if ‘concerned’ is the right word,” Thomas said this week when asked about the state of his game. “I obviously always want and wish to be playing better, but yeah, not exactly where I want to be with my game right now.

“But just like this game, you always work to try to get out of it when you’re not doing your best. So just got to keep working on it and hope good things start happening.”

Thomas’ year got off to a rough start when the television broadcast caught him uttering a homophobic slur during the third round of the TOC. His grandfather also passed away during the Phoenix Open, where Thomas struggled to a 72 on Sunday to fall out of contention.

He was also shaken on Tuesday by the news that good friend Tiger Woods was injured in a single-car accident.

“It’s been tough. It’s a part of life, stuff happens,” Thomas said. “I’ve been working on myself and I’ve made great strides I feel like in becoming a better, stronger man with the mistakes that I made.

“It’s unfortunate what happened with my grandpa, and I hope Tiger’s all right. I’ve just got to get back to worry about playing golf and try to do as good as I can because that’s the only thing that I can control.”

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is the pre-tournament favorite at +600 by DraftKings, where he is being backed by four percent of the handle and total bets. No. 2 Jon Rahm has the second shortest odds at +900, followed by No. 4 Xander Schauffele (+1200).

–Field Level Media