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January 12, 2017

Justin Thomas

Honolulu, Hawaii

JOHN BUSH: We'll get started. Not a bad time to be Justin Thomas. Justin, welcome back into the media center here at the Sony Open in Hawaii. A 59 today, if we can just get some thoughts on the round, including the par save on 8 and also being in the bunker on 9, just take us through those last couple holes.

Yeah, it was obviously a fun day. I just kind of had it rolling out there. I was hitting it well. All my birdies were easy. It wasn't like I made any long putts or anything. The chip-in on 10 was great.

But yeah, being 9-under through 13, I was like, this is a great opportunity. You don't get it very often in golf. Especially out here with the last five holes were all scoring clubs, if I could hit the fairway and get in position.

The two best putts I probably hit today on 5 and 7 didn't go in. When those didn't go in, I was kind of saying to myself, you know, maybe this isn't meant to be. I thought some of the things that happened earlier in the day, I was kind of curious if I was going to post a number or if it was just an unbelievable round.

That save on 8 was huge. It gave me a chance, because I knew if I hit a good drive on 9, I was going to have somewhere, 7-iron or 8-iron or 6-iron in. Hit a great drive. Thought it was going to carry the bunker. I missed it by six inches of carrying the bunker. I just assumed I was going to be wedging it out and I honestly I saw Berg hit 4-iron, he was a little right and he didn't have the lip as much, but still, 4-iron on the green. I'm like, he just did it. This isn't a time for me to lay it up.

And had a perfect lie. I told Jimmy, he just asked what I could get on it. I said, "I think I can get a 5-iron on it." I don't know if hitting it that high if I can get it there but it was sitting good enough where I could take it. I don't know why we wouldn't try it. This is the time when you try and just hit it perfect. And then I got a good read again from Berg (ph) on the green, and it just hung on there enough to go in.

JOHN BUSH: And to have round with Jordan and Daniel, just comment on that.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, that was cool. The coolest part for me was how excited they were for me on 18. To do that with two of your best friends out here and two of your friends that you played with for so long. There's a handful of guys that are just cool to be around, but those are people that I'm going to be playing with and hanging out with for the next 20, 25 years out here. I'll have that on them for now but that was a lot of fun.

Q. They were more excited than you were.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I was calm, I wasn't too nervous over the putt. I was just more focused on trying to make the putt. I think I got more excited from seeing them get excited than I did my putt going in.

Because I didn't -- I thought about it going up to the green. I'm like, if I make it, what am I going to do. It's not like winning a tournament. It's like, hey, unbelievable round, you have three days left to try to play well.

So I didn't really know how to react. I never had a putt on the last hole on a Thursday mean that much. So that part was a little odd, and I don't even know what I did. I just know I looked at them, and they were going nuts and I think I went nuts and then I think we just high-fived.

Q. Jordan said that he was nervous over his putt and couldn't figure out why he was nervous after he made his putt, because he was nervous for you. Just wondering, how nervous did you get on those last few holes and on the last hole.
JUSTIN THOMAS: The tee shot, probably I was feeling it the most, just because it's a hard tee shot for me with the wind off the left. My tendency is going to be miss to the right and right's not very good. It's just a hard driving hole. It's narrow, it's straight, and when it sits a little into the wind like that, I can't carry that left bunker as easily obviously.

I don't know, after that, it was just kind of -- it's one of those things that I hadn't -- I mean, I was in this position in Malaysia, but it wasn't as much. If I would have made the putt on 17, I still would have had to birdie 18. Wouldn't have had as good a chance going down 18.

It's a weird feeling just because it's like, yeah, if you do it, it's great. But if I miss it, I tap-in for 60, it's like, okay, I would have signed for 10-under before I started.

I don't know, I didn't feel how I thought I would feel. I thought I would have been just as nervous as I was trying to win a golf tournament. But I mean, I also was in an unbelievable zone and very, very focused and in a good rhythm, so I'm sure that helped.

Q. What's your lowest round, either in competition or at home with your friends before this, and have you ever put together a round where you hit it that well and putted that well?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Probably the best round I played before this one was a junior event at Sage Valley. It was a par 72 and I was 11-under through 15. I just had to birdie two of the last three and I hit a 5-iron to like seven feet on 16 and I missed that. I parred 17, parred 18.

But I literally did not miss a shot the entire day from tee-to-green. I mean, I remember every shot from that round just because I had shot like 82 -- I shot 79 the first day and I was like fourth from last and I shot 69 and I was in like 30th.

And then I just remember, because from -- it was an unbelievable day, and I really had nothing to really compare to that day until today. I hit a couple shots off the tee that weren't very good, but pretty much every shot until then, or most irons I hit were the flight I wanted, the trajectory, the distance.

Yeah, I think 60 maybe was my lowest, and a competitive of 61 here and Malaysia -- that's bad. I don't know if I shot 60,61 at home. I want to say 61. But now I know.

Q. How old were you at Sage Valley?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was 17 I think. I think I was 17. It was my senior year of high school.

Q. The putt on 9, how much of a difference from your birdie putt on 13?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It was the same. I tried to get in a little better habit of not looking at putts as much if I know what it's going to do. That's a putt I know it's going right. I played it something like just outside the left. But it doesn't need to be exact. It's a big hole. It doesn't need to be perfect, and I think I've tried to stop being so perfect with putts. I'm just like, look, it's somewhere around there. If I get the speed right, hit my spot, and it goes in, great. Let-the-hole-get-in-the-way, sort of thing.

That's what I mean, so it's like I saw Bergs, I knew it was going right anyway, but I just got behind it and looked over the line and felt good and I was like, I don't need to look at this anymore. Just hit the speed.

Q. (Off-mic).
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not when I was over it, no. I don't think I take long enough over it to do that. That's what I kind of said to myself, you've got this putt, may as well knock it in.

Q. Safe to say Hawaii is good --
JUSTIN THOMAS: It has been the last five rounds, that's for sure. It's enjoyable just to be here, let alone play golf against the best players and some of the highest fields.

Q. Jordan was just talking about, you guys played the weekend before, the three of you, Berger. Do you remember what you shot that day?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Absolutely not. I lost a lot of golf balls. I didn't finish all the holes.

Q. Shooting 61 here a couple years ago, did that give you an idea that this was possible coming out here?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, that same round, I was driving it well. And I know this course, if you drive it well, you can play it really well. It's the hardest fairways to hit on TOUR I think, and the greens aren't big, and the rough is kind of that length to where you can get some flyers or it can come out dead.

The biggest thing is just getting it in play, because I can just hit a lot of 2-irons out here and then I'm having short irons in, and I felt comfortable enough with those that I could hit my numbers. It wasn't windy.

Going back to that round, I remember, like I said, hitting it well and just kind of, it was an easy 61. Not that, you know, today wasn't easy by any means, but it's just low stress. It's fairway, green under the hole, make the putt, not very much break, sort of thing. That's just kind of what I did today.

Q. What you did Sunday or what you did today --
JUSTIN THOMAS: I would say on paper, it would be today. I'm only the eighth or something like that to do it, seventh. I would say history-wise -- I have a chance to win a golf tournament every week. I don't have many chances to shoot a 59.

Q. What you do you do with this golf ball?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Dad has it right now. Probably put that in the rack -- it will be somewhere.

JOHN BUSH: I know it takes a little while here, Justin, but for transcript purposes, but can we get you to go through your round, starting on No. 10.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, 10, I just hit driver off the tee. The pin is on the right, so I was just trying to really keep it up in that front bunker. Hit a great drive probably ten yards short of the green, and yeah, I saw Jordan's wedge kind of skip up there.

So I just figured hit a little low, kind of skid in there, and it landed and as soon as it landed, it looked like it might go in and it just dropped in. So to start with a 2 is great.

11, I actually hit a great shot on 11. It was kind of a maxed-out 6-iron for me and I was really trying to hit it just short of the hole and I just overturned it and I thought the wind was going to hold it. If it landed this much farther right, it would have kicked on the green short of the hole. Just landed, went in the bunker and short-sided, that was no good. Hit it to like 20 feet and missed that and made bogey.

12, hit my little bullet driver cut down there to about, I had 117 -- no, I had 107. So I just hit 52, take some spin off there to 12 feet. I didn't really hit a very good putt there. Pushed it. Parred there.

Great drive on 13. I couldn't see it because of the sun but just went through the fairway. I had 179, so I just was kind of trying to scoot an 8-iron up to land it short; or if it came out great, it landed on there and just get it somewhere on the green to make par. It came out great and landed on and went to like ten, 12 feet probably. It was a tough three, but Jimmy and I just read left edge and went left first and back right. I knocked that one in.

14, hit a little stinging draw 2-iron down there. Had 157 and just tried to leave something below the hole more importantly than anything. I put it in the perfect spot, probably 15, 18 feet just under right of the hole, probably a couple cups out to the right, and just a little 9-iron in there. Hit it under the hole and made that.

Hit a good 2-iron on the next hole. Kind of the same as 14. Just hit a little low, drawing shot. Had 136. It was pretty similar yardages that I was trying to hit on the hole prior just because of the wind, and I really just double-crossed it. It was a terrible shot with a 9-iron. It was a great 2-putt. It was kind of downhill, big slider, probably 40, 45 feet. So I hit that down there to a couple feet and made that for par.

Then the next hole, 16 is a tough tee shot, especially for me that I like to fade it off the tee. I hit 3-wood and I really just aimed it up the right edge and kind of closed the face. I told Jimmy, it was very similar to the tee shot I was hitting off 1 all week last week at Kapalua. Just try to hit a little low screaming draw out there. Just hit it on the ground and let it roll and I just smoked it. I had 117 in there. Hit a gap wedge 52 to about eight feet, pin-high left, and it was just dead straight up the hill.

Next hole, 17, is 187. Hit it down off the left and we were just trying to leave it a little under the hole. Hit just the perfect, comfortable 8-iron. Kind of a 73, 75 shot, about pin-high, five, six feet and knocked that one in.

18, Jimmy and I were discussing what we were going to do, because obviously it's a tough drive. I had these big tees in my bag that I literally got at this tournament last year for 18 tee shot. I couldn't find any and they weren't in my bag. I talked about -- I was just going to hit 3-wood up real high and try to hit a big hook. I'm looking around the tee and I found a tee. I found a tee that was like this much longer than mine. I was like: Jimmy, this is meant to be, I'm hitting driver.

I just barely put in the ground and just closed up and tried to hit the biggest high hook I could and just bombed one down there. Had 179, I think it was -- or no, I had 183 in there. Just hit a comfortable 8-iron. I just came out of it, about 30 feet right and I hit a really good putt. Thought I made it. Just missed and tapped that in.

Then 1, I just hit a 3-wood, a little cut 3-wood down there. Very similar, I think I had about the same number, 185 or something like that, 180, and hit again, a comfortable 8-iron, about a 170 shot. Just tried to leave it under the hole to the right and had about 15-ish feet, pretty easy putt and I knocked that one in. I got kind of a read -- but yeah, so I made that one.

2 is my least-favorite tee shot on the course. That was a big one for me getting that one on the fairway. Kind of the same as 14 and 15 on my front nine. Just kind of a low draw and stinger 2-iron. I just roasted -- I usually am hitting 2-iron, 7-iron or so in there. I hit it so far down there, I had 123, and I made just a little flip pitching wedge and I just held it against the wind and hit it in there about three feet and just knocked that one in.

Next hole is probably my worst swing of the day. 2-iron again, just trying to get one down there, have a wedge or 9-iron in, and I just kind of double-crossed it over in the rough and wedged that one on the green. Wasn't a great lie, so I was just trying to get on the green more than anything, get a par and get out of there. Hit just a terrible first putt about six feet short, and knocked that one in. That was a big putt, too, making that par putt.

Then on 4, it was 187, I think it was, 187 or 189. Again, trying to leave it under the hole, just past the hole. Kind of goes down -- it was mostly just off the right, a little down. I just hit a little pull 7-iron in there probably six feet underneath the hole. Pretty easy putt just outside the left to knock that in.

Next hole, I just hit driver, just kind of that bullet little cut and didn't quite cut for me, just in the left first cut because it's an easy pin. It was in a bowl. I just more so was trying to get the distance right, or actually I was just trying to hit it straight on a big upslope and if I could just somehow get it between two yards short and five yards long of the pin, it was going to kind of feed back or bounce up. Hit a great wedge in there, probably nine or so feet and hit such a good putt. It was a weird putt. We kind of had it going left at first, and then grain, we thought the slope was going right and coming back right at the end. I mean, I almost started walking to the pin. Looked like a foot left. It was like left-center with probably about this much left. And I don't know how or what, but it went up the hill and up against the green left and just grazed the edge. So that was kind of a bummer to miss that one.

Next hole, I just really pushed, sliced a driver. Felt bad that it was fine; I was so far right. But I was far enough to where I just had an opening and just kind of chopped a 9-iron up there. I actually had a pretty good look, about 14 feet or so just off the edge of the green and didn't really read it right. Just, whatever, hit it up there a couple inches, tapped that in.

I was bummed about that, too, because I knew if I got one on 7 and 8 or 9, not that it's a sure-thing birdie, but 9 is a lot easier birdie than most of the holes out there. I felt like if I get one on 7 or 8 -- just a perfect little hole, about 90 percent 9-iron hole for me which is a comfortable shot. I just came over it and I pulled it and it went too far.

I was pretty disappointed with that shot. It was a tough putt. It was probably 30 feet or so down the hill but it was really quick. We had it going pretty straight just outside the left and just went right at the end. I still have no idea how that putt didn't go in. Best putt I hit today by far. I mean, I don't know if it was Jordan or Berg or both of them, we all thought it was in and somehow missed. But it happens, I guess. So made par there.

Then on 8, kind of a tough enough -- 16 is a tough driving hole, but bunkers are in play and no wind usually, or downwind I'm hitting 3-wood all day, kind of the same as 16. Just a little low hooking shot to get it running and get it up there. The wind in and off the left, that's a tough wind for me to hit that shot with a 3-wood.

So just decided to hit driver so I could carry the tree and have gap wedge or something like that. Just hit it a little off the toe, so it turned more left than I had intended. In the left rough, just trying to hit something out to the middle of the green there, and it was sitting in a lot of grass on the ball. So I thought it was going to come out pretty knuckling and really not curve much and just run up on the green, so I kind of hooded it to make sure it stayed low under the spin.

Actually came out with some spin and hooked left -- it was 7-iron. I was trying to land something probably 50 yards short of the green and run it up there. Jordan was giving me crap. He thought I was trying to hook it around the bunker close, but I wasn't trying to do that. Had an easy bunker shot. These bunkers are so good here. They are firm. So I was kind of scared of bouncing into it a little bit like I did on 11. It's not like I would just hit one and be a little chunk and run up the hill. I just clipped it perfectly. It was a pretty cool bunker shot honestly, and about ten feet-ish, I would say, up the hill. And it was a tough read, just because up there in that part of the green, the grain tends to go opposite way of the slope. I called Jimmy in and he gave me a great read. We played it dead straight, right in the bag.

Had a chance coming up the last hole. Thought I hit a perfect drive. I was going to carry the bunker at the downslope and have about an 8-iron in, and I saw some sand flying and I was ready to punch something. And I was pretty upset about that, because I felt like all chances right there were gone; barring holing a wedge or something like that, but can't really bank on that.

Got up there. I felt pretty close to the lip -- but I had -- I didn't even get a yardage. Jimmy said we had 207, I think was. And it was sitting perfect. It was sitting really good to where it felt like I could get a 6-iron or 7-iron on it and just get it just short of the green. And then I hear Berg's caddie say 4-iron for them -- he was a little farther right. He didn't have as much of a lip, but still, he hit 4-iron. And I'm kind of -- Jimmy said, "Do you have anything?"

And I said, I don't think so, and he hit it, and it sounded flush and it's going high and it's going about pin-high. I was like, man, can I hit it on the green right now. I go in there, I'm looking at the lie, an upslope. I'm like, I guess I can hit it on the green, I don't know, I'll just -- give me a 5-iron, I'll open it up, make sure I can hit it up in the air. And who knows, I'll pure, it maybe I'll get there. And if not, just short, maybe we can chip-in again.

And I just absolutely flushed it. The wind died down a little bit for me and it flew up there about pin-high and I rolled it in, and I'm in here with you guys.

Q. (Off-mic).
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. What do you mean, what is it going to be like?

Q. Coming off a day like this?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, we'll go have a good afternoon, shake it off, and just kind of chill, go to North Shore and I think that will get my mind off it a little bit. Just get a good night's sleep and get out and try to hit some more fairways and greens.

It's a course where no lead or no margin is really safe. People are going to be, just like it was for us this morning. They are going to be firing at it tomorrow morning. So I need to get ready to get my mind ready and my game, try to keep it sharp to try to post another good one tomorrow.

JOHN BUSH: Justin, congratulations.

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