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HUMANA CHALLENGE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CLINTON FOUNDATION


January 24, 2015


Justin Thomas


LA QUINTA, CALIFORNIA

DOUG MILNE:テつ We'll get started.テつ Like to welcome Justin Thomas.テつ 4‑under 68 in round three of the Humana Challenge.テつ Coming off your 9‑under 63 yesterday.テつ You obviously are right in the mix heading into the final round tomorrow.テつ So we'll take a few comments on today and then open it up to questions.
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ It was a bit of a grind today.テつ Although I felt like I played pretty well overall.テつ The middle of my round was a little bit, I guess a little dicey, you could say.
It was tougher, definitely harder out there today.テつ It was windy and you had to think a little bit more and had to hit great shots and work them.テつ So I felt like I did that well.テつ I played the last eight holes really well, which is good to build on for tomorrow.テつ I hit some great putts out there that I felt like I made that just missed.テつ So, just got to helpfully keep rolling that putter well and start driving it a lot better and see what happens.
DOUG MILNE:テつ Take some questions.

Q.テつ Couple of players have been in here and said that the wind didn't hurt them, but it did make them think.テつ Just like you said.
Is it just a matter of flighting the ball and making sure you're hitting the right shot as opposed to the first two days when we were playing in a dome?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, well I felt like it hurt.テつ It definitely didn't make it any easier.テつ I thought it was a pretty fair amount harder.
Just because it wasn't really in a consistent direction the entire day.テつ It was supposed to be northwest or north, northwest and it just kept swirling a lot like that.テつ The last tee shot was supposed to be in and off the left and as soon as I hit it switched down off the right and I thought I hit it in the water.テつ So it definitely made it harder, the fact that it wasn't in a constant direction, like the direction was supposed to be, so you really had to get a firm grasp on what it was before the shot and really be committed.

Q.テつ Is there anything you learned from being in contention last week that you take into tomorrow?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, I think patience.テつ I really played pretty poorly on the weekend last week and I managed my game very well, I felt like, for how poorly I played and I think that the me from last year or maybe two years or maybe more so a year and a half, two years ago, would have shot some pretty high numbers on the weekend, as opposed to two even pars.テつ So it's just, some days you're not going to have it and it's just a matter it of what you make of it, especially on courses like this, you never know when you're going to real off seven birdies in a row, so you just need to stay patient and just take one shot at a time.

Q.テつ The players come out here the first time and they talk about how the real challenge is getting oriented with everything, where to stay, where to eat, all those things.テつ How have you handled that?テつ It seems like it hasn't been that much of a challenge for you so far.
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I've been fortunate where I got some sponsor exceptions and I've also been fortunate to where we have some friends or some family that have houses around the places.テつ Like this week I'm staying with a buddy of mine who is the same ago I am, at Texas, and they have a house out here, so they let us stay the last couple years.
It's different, but at the same time I feel like I've been traveling my whole life playing golf and I'm pretty accustomed to it and obviously it's a little different traveling for seven days than four or five days like junior and amateur golf, but it's still traveling and I love golf and when you love it and you enjoy it, I don't think it ever gets too tiring, at least for me.

Q.テつ Given that it was a grind out there for everybody, 68 isn't necessarily the score that you win with here, but you're right at the top of the leaderboard.テつ Is that a little bit of a surprised to or were the conditions that tough?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, not to me, like I said, I thought it definitely played a lot harder.テつ Obviously it's still not too difficult of a course and it's generous enough off the tee to where it doesn't really matter what the wind does, as long as it's not a gale force, that you should at least be able to still hit it in play.
Obviously, there's it was a little harder, looking at the scores, I felt like not knowing what the conditions would be today, what was Kuchar at?テつ 15 going into today.テつ I felt like I would probably need to get it to 20 or 21 to get in the final group.テつ When I got out here and saw the wind, I told my caddie, Shorty, I felt like on 11, if we got to 17 or 18, we would have a chance to be in the final group.テつ So once I got out there, I understood it was going to be a little harder and I think anybody would say it's definitely a lot more difficult when you have 10 to 15, 20 gusting winds as opposed to nothing.

Q.テつ What's behind the good recent stretch or do you just feel like you're playing well and what did you do during the off season to kind of keep it going?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I think I'm just a lot more confident.テつ I come into these events with a different mind frame than I did when I maybe had sponsor exemptions last year.
My preparation's a lot better.テつ I was pretty poor at using my off weeks last year.テつ I think I missed four cuts last year and every single one of them came after an off week.テつ I looked at that and realized why and I think moving to Jupiter was huge for me.テつ The facilities that we have at the Bear's Club, or I have, if you use them properly it's pretty hard I feel like not to get better and it's really been great for me down there.テつ Especially not being a Bermuda kid growing up in Louisville Kentucky, it's big for me, because that's definitely the weakest grass for me.
So, I just, I think I have a lot of confidence and I've been managing my game well, I've been patient and I've just tried to enjoy it more than anything.

Q.テつ Was it the off weeks when you weren't coming back from it, was it because you weren't working enough on your game or how were you handling those off weeks?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, I think I was being a 21 year old and I wasn't getting enough rest and I was going to see my friends, which that's understand able, I mean it doesn't matter what I do, I'm always going to miss my friends at home and I'm going to want to see them, but I just wasn't preparing well enough.テつ I wasn't getting enough sleep.テつ I wasn't eating right.テつ I think that it just wore on me.
I didn't think it would be a big deal, those Monday, Tuesday days, when you're tired on Monday and Tuesday you're preparation is not as good.テつ You don't see the course, maybe the things that you should.テつ That obviously wasn't too, or didn't work too well for me, but I've learned and I guess I've grown up a little bit in that aspect.

Q.テつ When you've had a terrific career, obviously, before you turned pro, so you were confident anyway, about you when you saw what Jordan has done out here how much did that give you the feeling of I can do that, too.テつ Also, how much does college golf at that high level prepare you for this?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ It helps a lot.テつ Especially when you look at it now.テつ You take three, four years ago, I was playing against, especially amateur golf as well as just as much as college golf, but you get the right college field, and a tournament like they had in Vegas or something like that, Oklahoma State's playing and Alabama's playing, Texas playing, Georgia playing, all those teams, and I was playing against Harris and Patrick Reed, Jordan, Russell, I was playing against all those guys and it's just really cool now being out here and being on the PGA TOUR and there's guys that I've been playing against and playing with for awhile.
And it definitely makes the transition for me from college to WEB.COM to PGA TOUR a lot easier, knowing that I have those friends out here.
And to answer your Jordan question, it helps a lot seeing him play that well.

Q.テつ That metamorphosis so to speak from not being very mature to more maturity, what were one or two motivating factors that helped you turn the corner, so to speak?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I think maybe seeing some other players do really well or beat me.テつ I'm a very competitive person and I truly believe, I mean everything I do, I want to be the best in and that's kind of why I choose to do it.テつ I just had ‑‑ the middle of the summer I didn't really play very well last year although you can play well on the WEB.COM and not make some putts and finish 30th pretty fast.テつ I just felt like I wasn't playing as well or as I should have.
I don't know, it's just I had some talks with some people and I think that I had a talk with somebody especially in Sea Island this past year after the McGladrey and we just, he talked to me a little bit and told me that it's a job and although it's fun and obviously it's a blast to have the best job in the world, you know it's still at that you need to work for it and there's 100 or however many people in the field every week that want to beat you, so you need to work at it.

Q.テつ So in essence maybe you got input from others about the discipline it takes to really make it at that level?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, especially from that one person I talked to, but other than that, it was, I mean it was just me a little bit, just because I was sick of seeing myself not play very well and I mean it's not like I was out partying all the time, it's not like ‑‑ I feel like I'm making myself sound terrible, but it was just.

Q.テつ Only twice or three times a week or?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ No, no.テつ It just was a the little things.テつ Like, when I'm at home, I think I'm starting to realize how much, what eating better is, what on an off week does for you.テつ Making sure that you get the right amount of sleep and sleeping in a good place, not on a couch that you're not going to get any sleep at all.テつ It's just little things like that, but it's the part of it and a part of being 21, I guess, and I love seeing my friends and going home and having fun with them sometimes.

Q.テつ Growing up in that background, that golf background, what age do you remember maybe telling your dad or saying I'm going to do this for a living?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I don't really remember a specific age telling him.テつ I grew up around it because my grandpa played on TOUR and my dad being a golf professional I guess it was just in my blood.テつ We go out and play all the time, the house videos we have I don't know if we still have them, I used to watch them all the time they were pretty funny I would hit it and run after it and they would drive the cart and we had our dog and we were going every where, I don't know.
But I think when I played the U.S. Kids for the first year, I was eight, and I played well, I lost in a playoff that week, but I just felt like after that week, because I played against juniors from Kentucky, but that's one thing to play in your state but when you know you play against other guys from different states and some different countries, it was like, well, you know, I can actually hang with guys from other countries and especially I was such a tiny kid, I probably weighed like 30 pounds, I don't even know.テつ But I just felt like this is what I want to do, especially I think losing in that playoff was kind of gave me a little fire.

Q.テつ Didn't you play Greensboro when you were 16?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Yeah, I did, I played the Wyndham when I was 16.テつ I won a junior event that got me into it and played in that.

Q.テつ So, getting that taste of it, as I recall you played pretty well?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I did.テつ I just was completely unconscious the first day and shot 5‑under.テつ I still don't know how I did it.テつ I was there and after I missed the modified cut or whatever, I was so mad and all this.テつ I think the last couple years I was sitting there and thinking back like what was I doing shooting 5‑under at 16 nature event.テつ It's funny to sit back and think about, but playing with those guys, I mean it really got me motivated.テつ Going in the player dining and all the food they get.テつ Making us omelets and I'm like 16 getting a candy and all this ice cream and playing a practice round with some guys.テつ It was just the coolest experience ever.テつ It definitely got me motivated.テつ I remember telling my parents and myself, I want to get out here as fast as I can and I want to play out here for a long time.

Q.テつ Do you remember who you played practice rounds with?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I played with Patrick Sheehan on Tuesday he's the nicest guy ever.テつ I played, I forget what I did on Monday.テつ I think I just went out and like played by myself.テつ Because I played a junior event there which was huge, the fact that I had actually seen the course.テつ I think I played two years or three years even, so I knew the course pretty well.テつ I remember I played it with Tommy Gainey and Chris Blanks the first two days and I played with Jimmy Walker on Saturday and it was, it was pretty cool, just for me.テつ I played with Jeff Klauk as well, but Jimmy, that's when he was, he wasn't quite the name that he is now and I remember getting sponsor exemptions after that and he would always say hey to me or at least acknowledge me as being a 17, 18 year old kid getting into an event and having him say hey, you know, it's a big deal.テつ So it was a really cool week.

Q.テつ You might be tied for the lead.テつ Kuchar was in the water on 17.テつ What's tomorrow going to feel like, do you think?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I'm excited.テつ Especially after last week it left me a little hungry.テつ I didn't finish the tournament off like I felt like I could have or I wanted to, and it's nice being on a course I'm familiar with, obviously I played some practice rounds last week, but I only played four or five times and I played out here a fair amount, so I know the course well, I know what I need to do, it's just a matter of doing it.テつ It's just any time you can get your self in contention in a tournament, it's awesome and it's a great feeling.テつ So, just hoping to have a chance and coming down 18 tomorrow.

Q.テつ In a tournament where birdies come in bunches is it better to be chasing or leading?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ I would rather be leading, personally.テつ I definitely understand what you're saying, but I really don't know.テつ I guess you can look at it both ways, but in my opinion I would rather be leading than be chasing.テつ Because regardless you're going to have to make a lot of birdies, that's just how it is.テつ I just remember like yesterday, I remember at one point I think when I was like 3‑ or 4‑ under, I had like gone down or I was I hadn't really moved up.テつ It's like, man you know you really got to get after it when there's no wind.テつ So regardless, you're going to have to make a lot birdies whether you're win by one or chasing by one.テつ Unless you're winning by eight or nine like P. Reed was last year.テつ You're going to have to make a lot, so I don't think it really matters too much.

Q.テつ Coming up on San Diego, what did finish issuing T‑9 there on a sponsor exemption kind of do for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ It was great.テつ It was something new, that was the first time I had really got myself in contention on the weekend.テつ I mean obviously Greensboro I was but that was just the first day or the middle or the beginning of the second day, but, yeah, I remember after birdieing 10, I looked up at the leaderboard and I was two back and I was like I got a chance to win this thing.テつ Of course I bogey the next two holes, like anybody would, but it was awesome.テつ Especially in a course like that.
And absolutely just terribly as I drove it, I don't know how I managed my game that well.テつ That was huge for me, just because I feel like ‑‑ I knew that if I played well I can contend, but to play like I did and to be in the hunt was really big.テつ That gave me a lot of confidence.テつ Especially for last year on the WEB.COM.
DOUG MILNE:テつ Justin, we appreciate your time, best of luck tomorrow.
JUSTIN THOMAS:テつ Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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