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January 6, 2017

Justin Thomas

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Justin Thomas into the interview room, second consecutive 6-under 67.

Justin, quite a show you and Ryan are putting on out there. Just get some comments on another great day.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it was a solid day out there. I felt like my game hasn't been -- I haven't been playing as well as the scores show, so that's always a positive. It's frustrating sometimes when you're playing well and you're not getting much out of it, but I feel like I'm really getting a lot out of my game. I'm just not hitting my irons as well as I'd like, so it's been nice to get around here with only one bogey so far.

I've just been kind of managing it round and hitting a lot of greens. I mean, obviously they are big out here, so it's easy to do so. So I just made the key putts that I feel like I need to and I'm in a good spot.

Q. You've only played two rounds this year. You're not getting much out of your rounds, practicing?
JUSTIN THOMAS: (Laughs) I haven't been playing a lot of rounds. So I've been taking a lot of time off and been doing a lot of practicing. I've been getting a lot out of my practice, if that answers the question, Doug.

Q. What part of your game can you elevate a little bit that would make a huge jump for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I think any time I can get better at my short game, my chipping and pitching, would be huge.

But the main thing I focused in the off-season was my driving. I think if I can drive it a lot straighter or even just a little straighter, there's no reason I shouldn't be in contention, or be at least around the hunt going into the weekend, or come Sunday.

I feel like that's a part of my game that I struggled with last year, and when I really had probably two months where I was playing terribly. I just was driving it all over the map and I couldn't really expect much of myself.

I feel like if I can tighten the dispersion a little bit with the driver, this could be a great year.

Q. What do you think, if you heard or saw, of Jimmy going to a 42-inch driver?
JUSTIN THOMAS: What do I think? Well, I mean, I've played a lot with Jimmy. So I guess it's kind of the first thing you do when you haven't seen someone in a while. You kind of take their clubs and this and that. And I get his driver, and I'm like -- something's different with this. I asked him -- that's what it was. It had a different sound to it and I was like, "Is this the same thing? It sounds weird. Like what did you do with it?"

He's like, "It's a little different. And he just handed it me.

That's when I put it on the ground, and I was like, "Is this really short?"

He was like, "Yeah, it's 42 inches." But he was hitting it just as far as I was. So I don't know, maybe I need to do it. It seems to be working pretty well for him.

Q. I was curious on the idea of Jimmy wanting to shorten a shaft to that length for his accuracy's sake. Is that something other people might take a look at, or do you lose so much distance?
JUSTIN THOMAS: He hasn't lost much. It was an amazing flight on the driver. It had a really nice trajectory and didn't have very much spin on it, so he was going to be getting maximum distance on it, especially when it's firm. For someone like Jimmy, it's not like he's really looking for another 20 or 30 yards. Yeah, I think all of us would take it. But he would give up five or ten yards to hit five to ten percent more fairways. I think I would probably do the same thing.

Who knows, with my two weeks off in the next couple weeks, I might be messing with something.

Q. Have you talked to Jordan about what it's like to do well here? He's obviously burned it up twice here. Have you talked to him at all about that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I haven't, no.

Q. If it's a nice, cozy start to the year, is there any part of you that's determined to give yourself a chance, win a couple times early on, momentum the rest of the year -- you didn't last year.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I think so -- I didn't play well here. I missed the cut at Sony, missed the cut at Phoenix. So that's a pretty bad start, I'd say.

So I'd say, I guess it's important, but I feel like I'm -- I don't know how this is going to sound but I feel like I'm past the point of trying to get some good finishes for momentum. I feel like I'm to the point where I should be contending most of the weeks I play, and at least giving myself a chance to have a good finish, if not around the hunt.

But definitely, any time you can play well or get some hot finishes or get a win at any point in the season, it's good for momentum. So I guess yes would be the answer to that question.

Q. 15 down the hill where you could have saved yourself --
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, that was just an atrocious drive. I got lucky with it to be okay.

Yeah, I wasn't really sure. Obviously in being the hazard, I couldn't ground my club to see how much grass or how thick it was or anything. Just kind of opened up an 8-iron, and I was like, well, I'll just swing hard. I felt like I could get it definitely to the second fairway. Yeah, it came out nice. I'm not sure how stupid I looked --

Q. Athletic?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'll take athletic. Probably could have gone in the hazard and I would have made 6 just as easy. Yeah, I was fortunate there.

Q. It's not easy to win out here. As a young guy with a lot of talent, is it hard to be patient?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's not easy no matter who you are. I think there's two or three people that have a winning percentage over, I don't know, 15 or 20. I might be wrong. I have no idea. But that's just a guess. That's the hard part about our sport, especially someone like a lot of us at the top or us young guys. I obviously want to win every week I play but it's just not going to happen. Doesn't matter how good you are. You're just going to have weeks you're off or someone played better or beat you, and often it's a lot of guys that beat you, unfortunately.

It is tough to stay patient, but at the same time, I feel like I'm getting a lot better at that. Just in terms of realizing that, I'm going to hopefully have some stretches of my career where, you know, every week for however many weeks, I'm in the hunt, I'll maybe win a couple in a row, who knows; I may not. That's the thing about this game, you just don't know what's going to happen.

But you have to at least think that you can do that to putt yourself in the position.

Q. Because of the slow start last year, wondering if you changed anything in preparation for this week and the West Coast?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I just prepared, actually, this year (laughter).

I mean, I obviously practiced and prepared last year, but I just didn't as much as I should have. I didn't take it like a normal event. I mean, this is a great, great opportunity to win a golf tournament.

I mean, this is your best chance, you would say. You only have to beat 30 people or however many people it is. Obviously the winners, they are all great players, but I'll take my chances over 32 versus 144 every single week.

I guess that's a part of it. Yeah, I tried to focus on the stuff I needed to improve on from last year, and I mean, I took a lot of time off, don't get me wrong. I had a great time this off-season. I really relaxed and did nothing, but these last couple weeks, I really tried to kind of hone it in and get ready for the start of this year.

Q. You talk about the driver. Is there anything specific you did swing-wise?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Swing-wise, I'm really weird, like I have a different -- I say this with my dad all the time. Like I have a driver swing, a different iron swing, it doesn't make sense. My clubs are usually pretty good at the top, a little short with the irons. And my tendency is to sometimes I'll swing a little bit to the left. And then with driver, I'll get it long and across, and then because it's across, I'll get way around and that's when I'll just hit those balls that go left of the world.

Rory and I joke, or he'll give me crap all the time. Some of the drives when I played with him and Jordan at the Memorial were so far off-line, I mean, so far left. I remember last year looking at video, I just was so far across. My swing right now, wish I could explain or wish you could feel how it feels for me. I feel like I'm pointing over at left field at the top and when I get it there, I can come down more on plane. It sounds more complicated.

But it's just something my dad and I have worked on, and just trying to get more consistent. Because if I have one miss or if it's a smaller miss, then I can at least play it or go from there. But when I'm getting in the end here and it's going 40 right and 40 left, then that's when we're re-teeing once a round and I don't want that.

JOHN BUSH: Justin Thomas, thank you, sir.

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