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October 4, 2017

Justin Thomas

Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, it was a tremendous honor. I mean, I think it kind of became official and really sunk in a little bit more when I got the call from the commissioner. You know, it's something that I felt like I may win just because of Atlanta and how the year ended out, but I knew how tight of a race it was going up until then and how many people had the opportunity or with one week to kind of change everything. It was weird with Presidents Cup last week and never really was a thought, and then finally got that call, and it just kind of sunk in. I was with my parents when I got the call, so I was able to kind of share the moment with them a little bit.

But it's a huge honor. Any time you can win an award with someone like Jack Nicklaus's name on the award, it definitely means a lot, and it's something that I'll cherish for a while for sure.

Q. And the question I would have is what would you have thought if would have taken at the start of the year to win this award, and how difficult, given today's kind of current climate of play, do you think it will be to win going forward?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You know, it's kind of crazy, especially for someone with the expectations I've always had for myself. It never really entered my mind winning it. It was something I think that the first thing that kind of came to mind is hopefully try to win the FedExCup or this or that, and then with that probably comes a great chance of winning Player of the Year.

As weird as it was, it just wasn't something that at the beginning of the year, okay, this is a huge goal of mine, this is what I want to do or I need to win or do these certain accomplishments to win it until actually the year was over, and I was like, wow, I actually have a good chance of doing this.

It's something I know how hard it is to do because of how the deep the TOUR is right now and how many great players there are and how guys are winning three, four, five times a year every year, and it's something that's going to be tough to continue or tough to replicate in terms of this year. But I'm definitely going to give it my best.

Q. Have you made a list of goals yet, and if so, can you share some of them for the upcoming season?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I have not, and even when I will, I will not share them.

Q. You're getting on a plane Saturday to go to try to win the same tournament for the third year in a row. What is it about Malaysia that you like so much?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I still am having a hard time grasping and understanding that I leave for another event in a couple days. It's going to be a bit of a grind probably Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in terms of preparation, but yeah, I don't know, it's a place obviously that will always have a special place in my heart, being my first TOUR win, and then the first time going back-to-back and having the chance for a three-peat. It's obviously great, but it's going to be a little bit different this year just in terms of everything that's happened and kind of the lack of preparation I'll probably get as opposed to the years prior.

But you know, it's a place that I know I can play well and I know how to play, so I think I'll be able to use my experience to help me out there in terms of my game maybe not being quite as ready. But I don't know, I don't know what it is about the course; I like the fact that it's a lot of wedges. I feel like I have a really good wedge game, so being able to use that strength to my advantage, and it's greens that I've seen well in the past, so hopefully it'll just continue that this year.

Q. You alluded to this a little on Sunday at East Lake, but just sort of how are you going to depress and figure out a way to go after it again? You noted you're playing a couple times now; how are you going to juggle trying to get your rest and then also gearing up for another go at this?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's going to be difficult, but I mean, I know I'd rather have it this way than the alternative and not playing that well last year and not having to deal with it. But it'll be different. But I'm really going to spend these next three or four days just trying to get as much rest as I possibly can. It's been an absolute grind these last four weeks in terms of amount of sleep and just a lot of on the go all the time. You know, I just am basically unpacking and trying to get everything all situated as quick as I can and then just have three days of doing a whole lot of nothing, a lot of working out and trying to get my body feeling good because it was a lot of golf the last three weeks and a lot of golf at the Presidents Cup. I played five matches. So my body didn't really feel that great come Sunday.

And it still isn't completely there, but I'm really going to work hard this week to get everything feeling good so that when I leave, I'm as close to when I feel at my best as I possibly can. And then when I get there, saying it now, it's hard to think of how motivated -- not motivated but how ready I'll be, but I know once the gun goes off on Thursday and I'm ready to get it firing, then I'll be ready to go and I'll definitely get back in that competitive mind frame sort of thing.

Q. Are you playing two over there or three, and then Tiger and that's it until Hawai'i?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I'm playing, yeah, Malaysia and Korea and then taking off until Tiger's event.

Q. When you sit down and sort of take a deep breath and reflect on this season, will there be a shot or a moment you think will first come to your mind?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You know, I've had some kind of friends or people ask that, and I really don't know. It's tough, but for good reason. I'm obviously fortunate to have a lot of great moments and a lot of -- just a lot of different scenarios or instances that I've really never experienced before. But that shot I hit on 17 at the PGA was probably the best shot I've ever hit in my life under those circumstances, and the same with the 3-wood on 18 at the U.S. Open on Saturday.

But I don't know, I mean, it's such a great year and so many great moments that it's nice to not be able to know which one. I mean, I really, really battled on Sunday of Atlanta. I didn't quite have my stuff that week in terms of the ball-striking. I drove it pretty well a couple days, but I just couldn't hit my irons like I wanted to, and to still have a really, really good chance to win that golf tournament on a very tough course and a great field and with all that was riding on it in terms of the FedExCup and everything, I think that was in reality one of my better achievements of the year just because I was just getting it around, just doing what I could do and what I needed to do to have a chance to win that tournament.

You know, I'm just a birdie away on 18 or Xander's ball lipping out on 18 to being in a playoff and ended up winning them both. There's a lot of great moments. It is tough to say, but that shot at the PGA and then Atlanta definitely stick out.

Q. When you look back at the start of a long season and you tee it up at Napa, you had, I guess, around 69, 70 TOUR starts and one win. Knowing your capabilities, what was the level of impatience to kind of get going?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I feel like the impatience wasn't too high. As a whole, it could have been, but I mean, I had a pretty solid career -- I mean, I shouldn't say career. Obviously very short, but a pretty solid run thus far in my career. It was easy to get impatient with myself, but my dad does a great job of that, of reminding me I've done a lot of great things, and I will continue to do a lot of great things if I continue to work hard and continue to do the right things.

I just tried to stay patient in that aspect, just saying, I'm playing a run of courses here that I like a lot, I love Napa, I'm really upset that I couldn't do that one this week. It's a course that I love, a tournament that I've had success at, but obviously then Malaysia coming right after that last year, it just was a -- I don't know, I felt like a year that I could do some great things. I was a lot more comfortable, and my game was a lot better. I'd been working hard. I just had to try to stay patient and block all the things out that I hadn't achieved maybe as much as some of my friends had. But you never know when you're going to get hot and reel off a couple in a row.

Q. You guys as a class are raising the bar so high. I know a lot of you guys have gone through the AJGA circuit and played at top college programs, but other classes have done that. Is there one or two threads do you think that kind of set this class of '11 apart?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, I have a hard time seeing it or choosing a class that's any better than ours. We had I don't know how many on the Presidents Cup team. I know at least four with Emiliano on the internationals, and I think that's it. And Xander had an unbelievable year, Berger has had a great young career, as well. There's so many young guys that haven't quite won yet, haven't quite broke out, the Patrick Rodgers and Ollie Schniederjans, and we have a lot of guys that have come through the Web that are playing this year. It's just crazy, it really is, and we just continue to push each other so hard, and we've done it for so long, it's just now we're at the top of the top in terms of the level of golf, and it's pretty cool that we get to do it on the world's biggest stage.

Q. I'm curious about your mindset when you're out there and you're shooting numbers like 59 at the Sony Open or 63 at the U.S. Open; can you speak a little bit to your mindset and aggressiveness in scoring?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You know, I -- it's weird, it's hard to describe, but I love going low. I love making birdies. It's something I honestly, as crazy as it is, I really think it speaks a lot to the courses that we played in college at Alabama, they weren't exactly the hardest golf courses, but they were pretty good courses, but you could really score on them, and that's something that Coach Seawell would preach to us is, hey, this isn't a Karsten Creek where you have to play really well to break par, but when you go out and play professional golf, you need to know how to make birdies, and you need to know what you're doing when you're 6-under through 9 or 6-under through 10 or have a chance at 59 because you can't let up one bit when you're out on TOUR because then you just continue to get passed or continue to get chased. I was able to do so and went low a lot in college when we played in those events, and I felt like I've always had the firepower to do so, but it was just about keeping the pedal down and keeping that aggressive mind frame when you're playing that well. That was something I was able to do, and Jimmy (Johnson) did a great job, as well, helping me not change my mind frame and our game plan when we're playing really well and just continue to attack, and yeah, I posted a lot of low numbers over the last couple years, but especially this year.

Q. We see a lot of players that are aggressive and it ends up costing them. What's the difference between them and you because it does not seem to be a negative ever.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, I think, I mean, you could look at me now versus me probably in my rookie year, and I'd say that's the difference. It's just experience. It's so easy to be aggressive when you get in those scenarios down the stretch because I feel like, yeah, there are times when you have to go out and get it yourself, and you have to earn it. But man, it's unbelievable how often not as low of a score wins as you think, and you don't have to do as much as you think, you just have to go out and play conservative aggressive golf if that makes sense, and you have to pick your spots, and when you have a longer club, it's not necessarily a time that you need to be aggressive and you don't, versus now I know that. There are times when guys will have a 5- or 6-iron and a tucked pin and they're on 17 and they're one back or all square and they're like, man, I have to make birdie here, when in reality, you just have to try to get a putt at birdie and you just have to try to make par and move on. That's something I've learned, and probably the biggest difference in my game now is just learning when to be aggressive and learning when my game is good enough that I can do so.

Q. Do you have the Wanamaker trophy in the house, and if so, where is it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yes, I just got it back from -- I hadn't been home since the hurricane, so I had to go retrieve it from Rick's house. Yeah, it is with me again, and I have kind of a little -- it doesn't quite fit in my office in terms of I have like a little bookcase, and it's a little bigger than the other trophies I have. But it's kind of a nice little ledge above the fireplace in my living room that it just fits perfect right when you walk in the front door, and I think I'm going to leave it there.

Q. We saw the picture of Phil dressed up like Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA on Sunday; what was the highlight of Sunday night and the celebration?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Probably all of us just being together. It was kind of the first time of the week we could all let loose a little bit and just enjoy each other's company and not have to worry about waking up the next morning early. We were just so tired because there is a lot of things we have to do throughout the week, and for good reason. It's definitely -- I wouldn't trade it for anything. We got to do some really cool things. But come 8:00, 8:30 every night we were all pretty tired and we would go to bed early, so it was nice knowing that we didn't have stuff the next day and we were done for the week and we could stay up a little bit, listen to music and celebrate together. It was just kind of a nice cap to a great week of hard work for all of us and just to celebrate as a team was something I've never been able to do at the professional level and something I'm looking forward to doing a lot in the next 15, 20 years.

Q. When you do get around to getting some goals for next year, do you tend to set the bar higher than usual, or is there part of you that tries to keep it, what in your mind would be realistic?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I think I'll just continue to do what I have, and I don't know who I heard it from back when I was in college or whenever it was, but you just kind of have to break it up. You know, you have to have probably two to four goals that are very achievable that you should achieve, and two to four goals that are in grasp but they'll be tough, and then two to four goals that are maybe a little bit out of the realm and that are going to be very difficult to do but are somewhat achievable if you have a great year like I did this year. That's something I'll probably spend some time talking to Mr. Nicklaus about or Tiger because those are guys -- those are the only people -- or even Jordan, those are the only people I know that have had such success in one season multiple times, and they've had to deal with resetting their goals and reevaluating. I'm just going to have to figure out how to do so, but that's kind of how I'll break it up is have some that are not easy but some that I should achieve, some that are doable but tough, and then some that are maybe a little bit harder.

Q. What will be your hard ones this year? What was category 3 this year?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Win a major, probably win multiple times, and then probably -- I mean, I think finishing top 10 in over half your starts is pretty impressive or pretty hard to do out on TOUR, so I would say that one was up there.

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