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July 9, 2015

Justin Thomas


DOUG MILNE: Justin Thomas, thanks for joining us after a very successful start to the John Deere Classic. 10 birdies in your opening round, a couple of stretches of four birdies in a row. You've obviously got to be feeling good about how you played today.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, absolutely. I played solid. I hit a pretty solid amount of fairways and greens and just made a lot of putts. It's hard not to go decently low without making that many putts, and I did. It's been a while since I'd seen that many go in, and hopefully I can keep that trend going.

DOUG MILNE: Did something trigger today's round? I know you've had five top-10 finishes this year. You came into the week with a little bit of a lull having missed a couple cuts and trying to get inside the top 50. Did you see something like this coming?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I've really been playing well, I really have. Even at the Travelers, even though I missed the cut, I played well. Just didn't get anything to go my way. I hit a lot of good putts that just didn't fall. Obviously last week I played 69 great holes, and I had every bit of reason as anybody else to win that tournament, I just played a couple bad holes, and if it wasn't for that I'm right there. There's definitely more positives than negatives to take out of the last couple weeks. I've felt like I've been close, and it's getting closer to all putting together.

Q. Are you more motivated after Sunday?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I was just ready to get going already. I didn't need any more motivation from Sunday. I like this place a lot. It's a good course, and I enjoy the opportunities to make some birdies. This is a cool place. It's special to me because I played as an amateur when I was in college because they gave me an exemption, so it's always great to come back and see him. A lot of great fans come out and watch, so it's cool to be here.

Q. What did you learn from that Sunday, that round you had on Sunday?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, it's -- it was tough because this is for me what I've come to learn is I'm standing on I guess it was 9 green and I was at 13-under, and looking at the leaderboard, I think I was either tied or winning by one and sit there thinking, okay, probably 15 or 16 is going to win, and it's 13 to get in a playoff. Just come to find about every event it's not quite as low as you think usually. I remember at Riviera I was 5-under after two days, and I was two back, I think, going into the weekend, like second or third to last group, and 6-under was the playoff on Sunday. If you'd have told me that on Saturday morning I probably would have put my life on it that I could do that. It's just patience more than anything, it really is.

Q. After five holes did you envision a round like this?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I don't think I really ever envisioned a certain round. I think that's -- when you have rounds like this, you really just kind of focus on the next hole, the next shot, and the next putt you have, and just kind of got on a roll, got in a rhythm. I was in a good focus and very patient today, and just kind of stuck with it.

Q. It wouldn't be much of a leap to draw comparisons to another guy who got an exemption as a youngster and then won. He was here after the fourth day. I know you've got three more rounds to go, but what's your approach, to take one shot at a time and hope for the best, but you've got to know you came here with some game this week.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, like I said, I've felt really good about my game the last couple weeks. It just hasn't had the results I would like, and those are disappointing. But it's also I'm probably going to learn a lot from a week like last week than I would being 40th on the last day and shooting 6-under and finishing 10th. As much as it sucks to finish what I did and be right there, it's probably better for me in the long run, and I'm going to draw a lot more from that in a week where I get in contention. I'm going to be like, you know, I've been there; I know what happens like that or when I get in a situation like that or I know what to think. Yeah, I'm just going to keep sticking to my game plan and hopefully be there again back nine on Sunday.

Q. Does it help you to be under the radar? Of course now you're not, but when you take a look at someone like Brian Harman last year, there were some big names in the field and he kind of snuck up on somebody. Does it help you to be somewhat obscure right now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess. I mean, I don't feel like I would -- it's easy for me to say because I've never really been anything else but that, so I'm just kind of accustomed to that. It's kind of hard to answer that. But yeah, I mean, I guess you could say it's nicer. It's better. But I'll let you know hopefully in not too long and let you know how the other way feels.

Q. Two separate questions: One, when did you kind of get good at maybe compartmentalizing, putting bad stuff behind you, going to the next hole or going to the next round? And secondly, how is your rivalry with Jordan? Slaying the Tiger talks about the rivalry you had in the AJGA.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I would say probably my -- when I got to college I matured a little bit. I still had a lot more maturing to do, hence why I didn't leave after my freshman year. But I think I got a lot better my sophomore year, and Coach Seawell and I, we had a bunch of talks about that, that that's what I needed to do to go to the next level and get better. I need to get over those bad holes because they happen, as much as you hate to say it, and it's how you bounce back from them is what makes a great player. When he would say that I would watch golf and I would see all the great players go out there and make a bogey and just wouldn't really be flustered by it and then go make birdie on the next hole, or if it wasn't then, they'd just kind of keep playing well. I think the last four years I've gotten better, but like the last year and a half to two years I've really gotten a lot better because last year you really had to have patience on the Web.com TOUR. Every week is a week like this week where you've got to make a lot of birdies, and you're even through 11 or 12, you feel like you're in last place, when in reality you keep playing well and you get hot the last five holes, and there you go, you're right there. I would say the last year and a half or so it's gotten a lot better. As for a rivalry with Jordan, it's nothing of one right now. I have a lot to do to get to his level, I mean, a lot to do. I'm working to get there, but yeah, I mean, we've always been good friends, so we've battled it out numerous times. I'd say he got the best of me in amateur golf, and I mean, I got the best of him in college golf, and so far he's got me beat pretty handily in professional golf (laughter), so I need to step up my game a little bit.

Q. Are you inspired by what he's been able to do?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I wouldn't say inspired, I would say motivated. But not just him, I mean, all the young guys and anybody winning. Usually you've seen guys -- seeing guys like Phil or Stricker or all the veterans out there, when they win, I would be like, oh, that's cool. But to see a young guy win, I would be like, oh, I've played against him, it's motivating, but now I'm out here and if anybody else wins, I'm like, I should beat them. I feel like I should. And anybody that wins is motivating, but definitely up here someone I've played against. You know, like a lot of the young guys that are winning out here, it definitely gets me going a little bit, I guess.

Q. Are you looking for John Deere luck with those bright green socks?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, you know, I didn't really put two and two together, I guess, until -- I mean, I obviously knew they were green, but with John Deere being the -- the green obviously being the color, until someone said it when I got done. Yeah, I don't know if I have another pair actually. I may need to wash these each day. Hey, if it means that, I'll wear them every day the rest of my life, I don't care. Yeah, I guess so. If it brings good luck, I'll do whatever I have to do.

Q. Don't wash them.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Oh, that's just nasty. I've got to wash them. (Laughter.)

DOUG MILNE: Justin, great start, and we hope to see you back here again tomorrow.
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