Justin Thomas, with 2 late additions to his schedule, has lots to play for right now

Justin thomas at the open championship

Justin Thomas missed the cut at The Open, and he has two weeks to try and qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs (plus add to a Ryder Cup resume).

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Justin Thomas knows he needs to pad his resume for the upcoming Ryder Cup. But to do that he needs to play in more tournaments. But to do that he needs to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. And to do that he needs to enter more tournaments.

Are you following?

Thomas, the No. 24 golfer in the world, is the most decorated player in this week’s 3M Open in Blaine, Minn., after he was a late addition to the field. He also added next week’s Wyndham Championship, the last PGA Tour event of the regular season, to his playing schedule.

If you are sensing a theme, it’s because the two-time major winner is No. 75 in the FedEx Cup standings, and he needs starts to get enough points to qualify for the playoffs — something he’s never missed in his previous eight seasons on Tour.

The top 70 qualify for the first of three playoff events, the FedEx St. Jude Championship, with 50 qualifying for the BMW Championship and 30 for the Tour Championship.

“In the past I may just be able to rely on a good first event or two in the playoffs, but the way it is now, you have to play some good golf to be in the playoffs, and I haven’t exactly done that so far,” Thomas said Tuesday at the 3M Open, where he’s making his tournament debut. “So I have two weeks to get myself in a good spot.”

Thomas missed the cut at last week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, his fate sealed by an opening-round 82, his highest career score in a major. He shot 71 on Friday, but the damage was already done. It was his third missed cut in a major this season.

While he’s been frustrated with his play, he chalked up Thursday’s 82 as a fluke.

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“I made two doubles and a quad, right? That’s literally middle school golf-type stuff,” he said. “I’m way too good of a player to be doing stuff like that. I don’t know if it’s a lack of focus or discipline or whatever. I played really good golf on Friday. It’s a little different when you’re just shipping driver around there everywhere and you’re just kind of hoping for the best. I knew I needed to go shoot seven, eight, nine under, but I have full belief that I can do that.”

Thomas got to Minnesota on Saturday afternoon but took the weekend off from playing golf. He said he watched every shot of The Open and even the finish of the Barracuda later on Sunday. He found time to do laundry and get a workout in, too.

He thinks his game is close and that he’s playing better golf than the scores indicate. He cited rounds of 64 and 62 at the Travelers Championship last month that prove it. He tied for 9th that week, but that’s his only event in the last seven that’s been a finish better than T60.

The other storyline here is, of course, the Ryder Cup. Thomas has not been shy about how much the event means to him, but after Brian Harman shot up the rankings with his win in Hoylake, Thomas now sits 14th in the standings. The top six after the BMW Championship auto qualify, and captain Zach Johnson will name his six captain’s picks after the Tour Championship.

Thomas’ success in the event — 6-2-1 record, and 16-5-3 overall including Presidents Cups — will make it hard for Johnson to overlook him, but a couple of good weeks in Minnesota and North Carolina to secure a playoff berth and another start or two might be exactly the boost his resume needs.

Although if these two weeks don’t go well and he misses the playoffs, then the conversation gets trickier. Johnson and Thomas also shared a rental at last week’s Open, and Johnson was asked several questions about Thomas’ status following Thursday’s 82.

“Bottom line is this game is really hard. There’s going to be peaks. There’s going to be some valleys,” Johnson said. “Let’s hope whatever sort of non-peak he’s in, it’s short. I know he’s got a great team. I love his coaches. I love how he works. He’s a worker. Guys with talent like that that work and aren’t afraid to put their work in the dirt, if you will, not to be cliche, typically find it. It’s just a matter of when, not if. He’s too darned good.”

Thomas is grouped with Joel Dahmen and Gary Woodland for the first two rounds of the 3M Open. Their Round 1 tee time is 1:54 p.m. ET.

“This is a good chance for me to learn a little bit about myself and push myself and become better,” Thomas said. “I mean, this game, nothing’s given to you.”

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining GOLF.com in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.