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January 16, 2015

Justin Thomas


DOUG MILNE:テつ Justin Thomas, thanks for joining us.テつ Nice finish there, birdie‑birdie‑eagle.テつ With that you're at 12‑under and tied for the lead headed into the weekend.テつ Just some comments on the round.
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, it was fun.テつ I kind of got off to a slow start.テつ I played well but didn't really get much out of it.テつ I kept giving myself looks and I had a couple good par saves, which was key, and then I finally made‑‑ played 16 well and made a birdie, and that just kind of got everything going, and from there on I tried to keep hitting fairways and keep hitting greens and giving myself chances, and I think I did a really good job of putting myself in places and had a lot of good birdie chances and uphill putts, and I just took advantage of them.

Q.テつ When you were floating around 7 toward the end of your round, what were your expectations for the weekend, and how much did it change over the last 30 minutes?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ It was really crazy.テつ It was probably the best zone and best focus I've ever been in.テつ I kind of‑‑ I knew I was playing well, but I really didn't know how many under I was for the day, and I just kind of kept playing.テつ It doesn't happen very often in golf, and it's really fun to happen.テつ It's probably maybe only the second time it's ever happened to me, but I just was more focused on kind of the next shot kind of thing, and I wasn't really too concerned about the future, but I did happen to look up and see 12 was leading, and I just tried to get it to‑‑ I was trying to get it to 9 or 10, just kind of get a little more reasonable, and obviously that finish was just a little bit of a bonus.

Q.テつ What were the clubs on 7 and 8?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ 7 I hit a little 8‑iron in there, and then 9 I hit a 9‑iron in.

Q.テつ What was the first time?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ As crazy as it was, I think when I was eight, I played in a junior event, and I remember I just completely blacked out, and I don't really remember how I got to where I was, but I had shot 8‑under.

Q.テつ Arron Oberholser was just on Golf Channel saying that you young guys, which I'm putting you in that category, used Tiger Woods as an influence to get to where you are today.テつ Is that what you used, or how would you characterize it?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I definitely have used that.テつ I mean, I think anybody or any golfer my age saying that they haven't looked up to Tiger or kind of wanted to be like him or used him as a role model would just be lying.テつ I think personally the things he did when we were going through, I guess, our middle school days, our high school days, I mean, it was just unbelievable, and I think that really got me going and really drove me to be where I am.テつ Especially going to the PGA in Valhalla in 2000, I guess I was seven, and I mean, I remember watching it thinking, why would I not want to‑‑ this is the coolest thing ever, and then even the Ryder Cup after that at Valhalla.テつ I think watching him doing what he did just was really motivation and kind of just a kick‑start hopefully for us to be where he was.

Q.テつ You came out of college with a pretty high profile as far as college golfers go.テつ Curious what your goals for the year were, and to be in the 36‑hole lead pretty early, that had to be up there, I'm sure.
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, I had a lot of goals, a bunch of little stuff that my caddie and I talked about and tried to achieve, but a big goal of mine is to play in the TOUR Championship.テつ I feel like if I make that, I've had a very good and consistent year, and hopefully through at least one win in there.テつ I think last year was a very, very big and important year for me.テつ I learned a lot, and I learned how to win fortunately, and obviously it only happened once, but I put my body and put my game in that position and I kind of knew how it felt.テつ Obviously it may feel a little different out here, and I'm hoping to figure out what that's like come two days from now.テつ But I think it's just try to get in contention and get in those positions as many times as I can this year and just try to learn from those as often as I can.

Q.テつ What did you learn from that win that you didn't know before?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I think just patience honestly because personally I had no business winning that tournament.テつ Richard was playing really well and I got really fortunate with how we finished, and you never wish that upon somebody.テつ I thought it was pretty funny and ironic how I had a lot of chances of where I felt like I was right there and should have won or had a lot better chance than that and won, and then I tap in on 18, and then I just looked at Shorty, like, hey, we made a good run, and he's like, Richard just bogeyed 17, we're top of the lead.テつ I'm like, I was three back last time I looked.
It was funny how that all happened, and I was very patient that day, and I think that was a big part of it.

Q.テつ We see your name tied with Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson.テつ How hard will it be to stay patient tomorrow?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Hopefully not very hard.テつ Obviously it's easier now to sit here and say that and then I'll be out there tomorrow and feeling some different things.テつ But I'm excited.テつ It's why I turned pro early.テつ It's why I am playing golf for a living.テつ It's why I'm doing what I'm doing.テつ If I didn't want to be in those positions I would have never made all the decisions I've made, and hopefully I'll learn something, but then again, continue to play well and keep myself in the tournament.

Q.テつ Where did you play well last year?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Jackson, Mississippi.

Q.テつ When you talk about patience and you get off to somewhat of a slow start and talk about the reshuffle early, was there any time any panic set in?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Not panic, but definitely a little uneasiness I guess you could say.テつ I obviously got off to a very luck luster start and I didn't prepare very well the first couple events, and it showed missing the first two cuts, and didn't finish well at McGladrey, and I really took that week off to get after it.
I realized although I had my TOUR card, it wasn't‑‑ I didn't necessarily have my TOUR card.テつ The Web.com guys, we obviously do and we get into tournaments, but you have to earn that keep for the next year, and you have to earn your keep playing into events.テつ I think I learned a lot from those events thinking, okay, I'm fifth in the reshuffle, whatever, I'm going to get into all these events, but in reality if I didn't get my stuff together the next two events I wasn't going to have a place to play on this West Coast.テつ It was a big week for me, those last two weeks were.

Q.テつ How did you change your preparation after that?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I went down to Jupiter where I moved, but I hadn't moved yet.テつ I just hadn't had enough time to, and I went down with my roommates and practiced out of Bear's Club where I belong, and I just really, really grinded hard for three, four days.テつ One of my roommates, Patrick Rodgers, was also out there, and we've always been kind of head‑to‑head, same age, and I think honestly he helped me really get ready for that event a lot.テつ We played a lot, had some great matches, and we always are competing against each other, and I think that just kind of competitive nature and to have kind of some juices flowing in an off week I think was good for me going into Jackson.

Q.テつ Outside of Patrick, who's your other roommate?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Brad Gale.テつ He has his conditional card on Web.com this year.

Q.テつ Are you a goal‑oriented guy?テつ Did you set goals coming into the season?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I did.テつ I set a pretty decent amount, but then again, I kind of set‑‑ with my caddie we kind of set some as the week goes on, as well, and just kind of week to week and tournament to tournament, our own separate individual ones.

Q.テつ What's your goal for tomorrow?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I mean, the same thing, just try to hit all the fairways and scramble well and keep it under the hole, just kind of the same strategy I've had the first two days.テつ But just be patient and enjoy it.テつ I mean, it's pretty awesome job I have and pretty sweet to get to play this close to the ocean, and I get to play against the best players in the world, and I'm just kind of looking forward to hopefully making my way to where they are now.

Q.テつ Who did you travel with?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I came by myself.テつ My mom came on Tuesday.

Q.テつ When you're lining up that eagle putt, were you thinking, I've got this for the lead?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Kind of.テつ Like I was.テつ It was in the back of my head.テつ But then again, I felt like I didn't see an 11‑under, so I wasn't sure if I kind of knew‑‑ if it was twosomes I wasn't going to be in the final group regardless, which I was kind of bummed about.テつ But then again, I kind of knew what the putt did, and I was just in that zone, and I just kind of stepped up and hit it, and when I got done, I kind of realized it.

Q.テつ What were some of the par saves you mentioned on the back nine?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Let's see.テつ I made one on‑‑ I lipped a putt like‑‑ what hole was that?テつ 13, I left a 40‑footer probably like six, seven feet short and made that one.テつ On 3, I hit it in the left rough and then I hit it in the bunker and I hit it about six feet above the hole, and I made that.テつ Going bogey‑free is just kind of a little personal goal I have every day.テつ It doesn't matter the tournament, the course or where it is.テつ If you're bogey‑free even if you make one or two birdies, you've played well and you've managed your game well.テつ Those were big to save those and to not drop shots.

Q.テつ You were bummed not to be in the final group?

Q.テつ Do you feel like there might be just a little extra pressure being in the final group versus being in the second to last group?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, but I mean, I would hopefully achieve that at some point, so I think the faster it happens, the better it's going to be for me.テつ Like I said, that's why I left when I did and why I've done everything I've done, to put myself‑‑ I've expected myself to be there as fast as I can.テつ Yeah, I mean, I was bummed when I found out I wasn't going to be.テつ I understand what you're saying, that some people would maybe want to be one back as opposed to tied or second to last group as opposed to last group, but I want to be right there, and I want to be in the heat of it.

Q.テつ When is the first time you played with a view of the ocean?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Oh, man.テつ Probably a tournament for me, honestly.テつ I don't even know when it was.

Q.テつ Have you been to the beach this week?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, I went Tuesday morning.テつ We played an afternoon practice round and Trey Mullinax who Monday qualified, he's one of my teammates, we went down to the beach and hung out, just threw the football, went in the water, and just tried to relax.テつ I tried to remember I'm still 21 years old and I need to enjoy that.

Q.テつ (Inaudible.)
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I went and bought one.テつ I needed to.テつ I was pretty‑‑ I was also very upset that it wasn't a real football.テつ It was kind of one of those little cheesy water footballs, but I had to do something.

Q.テつ How do you know Patrick, from college?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Rodgers, yeah, he's from Indiana, and being from Kentucky we've played junior events since we were eight or nine.テつ We weren't as close then, but I think probably when we were like 11, 12 we kind of started to become pretty good friends, and then as we went up and up each year, we kind of became closer and closer.
DOUG MILNE:テつ Justin, we appreciate your time.テつ Good luck tomorrow.

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