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NAPA, Calif. – Justin Thomas has some extra motivation to go low this week as he kicks off a new season at the Safeway Open.
Thomas has been a frequent visitor to Baker’s Bay in the Bahamas, making multiple high-profile spring break trips with the likes of Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, and he was watching at home while the area was devastated by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month. Baker’s Bay was only a few miles away from where the storm made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane before stalling out for nearly 48 hours and leaving a wake of destruction behind.
“To have that place almost completely wiped away, being closed for a year and a half or two (years), and the amount of damage it had and the fact that, you know, that spot, Baker’s, is not even as bad as Marsh Harbour and other Abaco (islands) – it’s awful, it really is,” Thomas said Wednesday. “Those people that worked there, they don’t have houses to go back to and people that have grown up there and been through 13, 14 hurricanes, their house didn’t make it. It’s like, what do they have to go to?”
Thomas shared on social media that he made an undisclosed donation to support Convoy of Hope’s efforts in the Bahamas, and he is pledging $1,000 for every birdie he makes over the four remaining starts he has planned for 2019, starting this week at Silverado Resort & Spa.
“There’s nothing that I could do individually that could fix everything, but my big thing is I was just trying to spread the word and get others to hopefully pledge with me,” Thomas said. “It’s going to take a long time for them to heal and recover, so any little thing any person can do is huge.”
Thomas has reason to expect a few birdies this week on the North Course at Silverado, where he is the highest-ranked player in the field and where he cracked the top 10 in both 2016 and 2017. This will be his first start of the 2019-20 season, and also the first since a skin cancer scare that led to him having a mole cut out from his lower leg on Sept. 9 following a routine check-up.
Thomas had to limit his activity for two weeks while his leg recovered, but he feels ready to go in wine country after receiving a clean bill of health from his dermatologist.
“Anytime you get a text from your doctor, after hours, telling you to call him is usually not a good thing. So when I did, he kind of explained the situation and told me what was going on,” Thomas said. “I got the stitches out two days ago. So it feels good to have them out so it doesn’t feel like I’m ripping them everywhere I guess.”