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September 22, 2016

Justin Thomas

Atlanta, Georgia

Q. Off to a solid start, ending on a birdie. Tell us more about your round.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yes. I really didn't think I was playing very well to start the day. I wasn't driving it as well as I would have liked through 13 holes or so and made a couple bogeys or so, I think, on 12 and 13 to give two back to get to 1 over. I kind of figured something out, something clicked, and I made a couple of easy birdies. So it was nice to finish at 2 under today.

Q. What kind of clicked out there?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I just tried to get my swing a little bit shorter. I think that's always kind of a good thing for me. I know everyone's different and has certain things they can go back to. But for me, my tendency is to get a little long, especially with the driver. Just anything to keep the dispersion a little tighter and not have those wayward drives is key out here.

Q. Does the golf course have a major feel to it? Guys are talking about how hard it's playing with the rough and everything. Does it have that feel?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's weird, but Jimmy and I were saying, we're surprised the scores are as high as they were today. Obviously, it helps when you hit some better shots. I felt like I, although I didn't strike it as well as I would have liked, I definitely made it as easy as I could on myself. When I was in the rough, it was either on a par 5 or I got a good lie. So it helps.

This is the first time I've played it, so it's all I know. It's a great track in pristine condition. It's all right in front of you. There's no hidden tricks, which I think is fun. We don't play too many courses like that. There's just not that many courses like that left. It's definitely different, but it's fun.

Q. [ No microphone ] said there's nothing they can do. It's not about strategies or what you shoot. Come Monday, what's the point of it? Do you understand any of this?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't. I don't want to understand it either. I think, just trying to come here and trying to put myself in position to win this golf tournament, it's going to not only benefit the best from me in this tournament but probably for anything in the Ryder Cup.

It's probably the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with when it comes to not thinking about it. It's one thing to come down the stretch of a tournament and not thinking about winning, but I've just had so long to think about the Ryder Cup, and for people to say they don't think about it, I think is absurd. It enters my mind every round at some point. I think you really just have to kind of laugh it off and put it past -- at least I try to put it past me as quick as I can and just try to play golf, which is easier said than done. But it is what it is.

Q. Are you thinking about it right now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, you just asked me a question about it, so yeah.

Q. Before I asked the question, were you thinking about it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I was just thinking about how I got called "Jason," but that's okay.

Q. Why were you invited up to Hazeltine?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess I'm somewhat in consideration, which is good to know. Not to be completely in the dark. It's nice knowing, coming into this week, that I have a chance. Obviously, I would have thought that I would have, but to know that I do is a little reassuring. I control my own destiny, just like I do in the playoffs. I have to play well to try to move up the FedExCup and to try to win that big trophy that's on the 1st tee.

I don't know what, I guess necessarily, the point of it was. Obviously, there was some, or else we wouldn't have been there.

Q. Would you expect to be picked if you win?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't want to say I would expect to, but I would say it would help my chances. You know, it's such -- I was talking to Jimmy and my dad about it. Obviously, this is the first Ryder Cup I really have a chance to be a part of. So I probably haven't followed the captain's picks -- or the last captain's pick as closely as I have now.

I just -- I can't imagine, one, being such an up-in-the-air decision. So many guys have an argument. So many guys have a downside. I mean, if it ended right now, you know what, everybody can say one thing or can say the other or can say another person, and who knows what's going to happen?

Q. If you had not been asked to go to Hazeltine, do you think you would have gone into this week any differently?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Possibly. That's a good question. I think -- like I said, I think I had an idea that I had a chance, but to actually know that I'm one of the however many that's being considered is a good feeling, and to not be playing this week not knowing what's going on.

Q. Do you feel, having gone there on Monday, do you think it added pressure to this week?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That's what I told my dad. I was like, like I really wanted to play. Like I thought I could want to play any more. That pretty much made me want to play even more, after seeing all the stands. I've been to plenty of Ryder Cups, for my dad working for the PGA, I've been to three. But to be in there and playing the golf course and just playing with the guys, whether they end up being my teammates or not, they're all friends of mine. It was pretty cool. So we'll see.

Q. Where were the other two? The other two Ryder Cups.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Wales, believe it or not. You don't believe me? Played the Junior Ryder Cup. I was actually telling a story to Bubba how Jordan and I and a couple other guys on the team were in the 1st tee stands. Our parents went up and got us a spot early in the day, and we went and watched the 1st tee spot.

I was like, Bubba, obviously, I've never seen you hit a ball in person, and this ball, there was a little dogleg left, it started over the gallery and started coming back right in the middle of the fairway. I was like, that's pretty cool. It's funny telling him that story, and there we are at Hazeltine.

But I went to there, and then I went to Oakland Hills when we got drummed pretty well.

Q. Did you tackle anybody in Wales?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, for sure. We were making up all kinds of rules, because it was sopping wet, and there were like puddles and stuff. No offense, but there's a lot of people in the gallery that have no idea what's going on in golf. So we were having a blast. We were saying if you hit it in a puddle, if they chip it in you get to take a club out of the other person's bag. Or if they don't get this up and down, the other person gets to tee up and hit it in the other direction if they want.

People are looking at us like, Are they serious? I was like, Yeah, if he gets this up and out after taking a drop out of the water, they win the Ryder Cup. It's the first match, it's over.

We really had some fun with that, probably too much fun. What are you going to do?

Q. How old were you then, like 8?
JUSTIN THOMAS: When was it? Do you know?

Q. 2004.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was 11. I was a little guy.

Q. How old were you at Oakland Hills?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. I was too young there. I just know I was losing pretty badly. I remember seeing Kenny Perry and saying hey to him. That was pretty cool. Other than that -- you know what I do remember? I had a lot of frozen lemonades that week. They had these little stands, like the ice whatever they are. Yeah, I crushed those that week. I remember I had a lot of those. I don't know why I remember that, but I do.

Q. When they won, you got a fist pump from Phil?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I did. My mom got a hug from Phil, and we were just like all there. I was like, Congrats, Phil. He was like, Thanks. He was just hugging everyone. You know, he won. He was excited.

I saw -- I remember I can picture it now standing there behind -- it was like 17 green, and then the tunnel that they would walk through to go to 18, J.B. had just won his match, and he was going through. He kind of walked through because I don't think all the team was behind 17 green yet. So I was back there, and I knew him and his caddie Brandon by that point. There just somehow happened to be not that many people there, and I was like, J.B., congrats, man. He was like, Come on, get under here, and he pulled me under the ropes, and we went back under the tunnel, and that's why we were behind 17 green, because of him. It was pretty cool.

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