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August 18, 2015

Justin Thomas


MARK STEVENS: We'd like to welcome Justin Thomas. You're making your first appearance here since 2009 when you were 16 years old. You made the cut that year, and I think you're the fifth youngest player still to this day to make a cut on the PGA TOUR. Kind of talk about your memories from '09 and then we'll get into some questions.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, a lot of good memories. There's not many places I get to come to, especially this year, where I have memories of playing in an event, especially being 16. I was a little out of my element and a little‑‑ I guess it was just so cool playing and to be around some of the guys that were here. I learned a lot. I got to play with‑‑ I played with Jimmy Walker that week on Saturday, and we're good friends now, and we were kind of joking about that. I played with him last week, and we were kind of poking fun at that a little bit. But yeah, just walking down the fairways, and I've played a lot of tournaments here, so I've got a lot of good memories.
MARK STEVENS: This year you find yourself as the top rookie in the FedExCup standings heading into the Playoffs. Just kind of talk about your goals, how they've changed over the course of the year and your goals going into the Playoffs.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I've really played well the last couple months. My expectations have always been high, but especially these last probably month and a half or two months. I really, really expected to truly win every event, and I've had that thought, I guess, at the beginning of the year. I guess I wasn't quite as disappointed when I didn't do it. If I finished top 10 or something like that, I knew it was a good week. It still is, but weeks like last week where I guess if you stood back and look at it, it's a good finish some would say, but I was very disappointed with how I guess it all turned out. I felt like I played good enough to win.
When you look at it that way, it's a little harder on myself, which isn't exactly a good thing, but I'm taking a lot of positives out of each week, and I'm really excited for this last stretch here.

Q. Would you say this is your best stretch since November of last year? Do you feel like you're in a groove now that you haven't been all season?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm well, I really am. These last, I guess, three events, I put myself there in some way, shape or form, and last week wasn't quite as much, but yeah, I've just been hitting it really well, been putting well, too, just some of the putts maybe haven't been falling, but I really‑‑ I've had a nice stretch of playing, even though some of the results maybe in the weeks before weren't reflective of how well I played. But yeah, like I said, my game feels really good, and I'm just excited going forward.

Q. Last time you were here you got in on a sponsor's exemption after winning the AJGA event here. What was your junior golf experience like, and how did it prepare you for where you are now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it was awesome. I have a lot of good memories from the AJGA. It was funny, playing with Patrick and Ollie today, we played a lot of tournaments together. We played on a Canon Cup together, and I played a Junior Ryder Cup with Ollie, played a Walker Cup with Pat, so we have so many good memories, and the AJGA was a great‑‑ I know it was for me, and I'm sure they'd say the same, great kind of starting base for us. It got us ready kind of playing against the best juniors in the world at that time, and now we've kind of grown, and it's more and more guys from our class are starting to be out here.

Q. That first Wyndham, how nervous were you that first day?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was very nervous. It's funny when I sit back and look at it, because I played really well the first day. I shot 5‑under, and I think I was in fifth or something like that. I didn't play well, I think I shot 2‑over on Friday and then 1‑over on Saturday, but after I played, I guess, Friday and Saturday, I was so upset and so mad, and now looking back at it, I'm like, what I was doing shooting 5‑under at a TOUR event when I was 16, it's crazy that it happened.
It was crazy, and I was very nervous, but I was also comfortable, and it got me really motivated to be out here.

Q. I think you're sitting just outside the top 30 right now in the FedExCup points, so obviously you don't have to worry about getting in. A lot of guys do, actually. How nice is it not to have to worry about your spot in the standings this week?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's nice, but at the same time, I've got a long ways to go to catch Jordan. I mean, he's pretty far ahead of everybody. But that's the goal. That's why I play. It's to try to win the FedExCup.
I have a lot of work to do, and luckily the playoff events are a little bit more points, although I may need to win them all. I'm going to try. But yeah, it's nice to not have to worry too much, but at the same time, I have some work that I want to do to get where I want to be.

Q. How would you say you're doing in terms of achieving the goals that you set for yourself for your rookie season?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I'm doing pretty well. I still have a couple that I'd like to achieve and probably three or four that are left. I mean, obviously not winning yet this year, that was one of the big ones, and only playing in one major was definitely a bummer this year. I really would have liked to play in all of them, but the Masters being a little harder to get into than the U.S. Open and British. But yeah, I've had a good year, and with these last hopefully five weeks, it could be turned into a great year.

Q. What did you learn from being in contention at Greenbrier?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That was a tough one. It really was, because I felt like I had the tournament under control. I was playing good. I was doing everything I needed to do. I just had one‑‑ my bogey on 9 wasn't that bad. I just didn't really have anything, but obviously four‑putting 10 from 12 feet or whatever it was was a bit of a meltdown, but I still had a chance. I probably wasn't patient enough, and I pressed a little bit. I felt like I needed to make more and more and more birdies, when in reality if I just, I think, played 1‑under in my last eight holes, nine holes, I would have either been in a playoff or won outright, I think.
When you sit back and look at it that way, it's tough to swallow, but I am going to and got better from it.

Q. So you were 16 year in 2009. Jordan obviously was 16 in 2010 when he started in Dallas. When was the last time you guys compared notes just about what it was like to be at a PGA TOUR event at that young of an age?
JUSTIN THOMAS: When is the last time we did?

Q. Yeah.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I really can't‑‑ I don't think we've really ever done that. I mean, we care, we care a lot. That's just not really‑‑ that's never really been something we do, just to kind of sit‑‑ I don't know. I'm sure we have at some point, maybe like soon afterwards. But we never really kind of got together or anything and talked about when we played. It was a big deal to both of us, but we were probably more worried about talking about what other 17, 18 year olds do, I don't know.

Q. Obviously everyone's golf game evolves. What's the single biggest change in your game from the time you were 16 until now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I'm definitely more patient, that's for sure. I remember doing like an interview after I finished on Friday, and I was just absolutely livid. I was running hot. And I saw the footage of it, and it was terrible. I was so mad. It looked terrible. I mean, I learned a lot from that, but I came off the course and signed my scorecard and people were asked me and I was all ticked off I didn't play better, and it didn't come off very well.
I mean, I guess if you can say that's a part of my game, I would say patience, but I definitely, definitely hit it a lot farther. Hard to believe I was actually skinnier than I am now then, and I've seen some pictures of me when I played, and I look unhealthy, I'm so tiny. I mean, yeah, in terms of actual golf game, I hit it a lot farther I would say.

Q. What did that week do in terms of validating that this could really be your career down the road?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You know, it was huge. Like I said, obviously I careered it that first day to shoot 5‑under, but I still was there, and it doesn't matter how well I played. I made the cut in a TOUR event when I was 16. I mean, it's so cool when I sit back and look at it and it's something I'll always have and a great memory. I just being so motivated leaving that week because I was really upset I didn't get to play Sunday, and I was like, it was so fun, all the perks that we get and at the time that these guys got, the courtesy cars, the dining, the range, getting to hit Pro Vs, and the course was so perfect. I think it made me work a lot harder those next couple years, and it really kind of made me‑‑ it really drove me to keep working so I could be out here where I am now.
MARK STEVENS: Thanks for your time, Justin. Best of luck this week.

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