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March 21, 2017

Justin Thomas

Austin, Texas

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Justin Thomas, thank you for joining us. Tremendous year so far, three wins. You're currently leading in the FedExCup, and you head into your second WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play tournament.

Comments about your season so far and about playing the Austin Country Club this week.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's been a great season so far. The consistency hasn't exactly been where I would have liked it to be, but I just need to try to focus on the positives more so. I'm trying to get better at that, but there's still times where I struggle with it.

But I'm getting better in terms of managing my game and things like that. And I'm very, very comfortable when I get in contention, so I just need to work on getting there more often.

I'm excited about this week. The game is definitely getting better. My dad is here this week, we've been working pretty hard on trying to get the bad habits that I had that four-week stretch out. Yeah, excited to get going tomorrow.

Q. How frequently do you really get together with your dad for serious swing work and sessions?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I haven't seen him since LA, probably about a month or so. Getting that time of year where he's getting business at the shop. It is what it is. Obviously I talk to him a bunch and I'll send him videos if I need to. But it's still different than having him there and things like that.

But just those four weeks, when you play consecutively like that, if you're swinging well, it's great. But if you weren't, like I was, then you get into some bad habits and that's when you really start hitting it poorly. So it was probably good timing to have a week off to hang the clubs up a little bit and then kind of start from scratch again with him here.

Q. Does he charge you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess, yeah. I pay him, if that's what you're asking me. Yes, I do.

Q. Considering the year you had and what you were talking about, struggling a little bit with your swing over the last couple of weeks, do you learn more from the three wins and everything you've done over the season or over the last couple of weeks, how to grind it out and fix it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, I was honestly really, really proud of Mexico, just because I really played well. I think Friday I really played well. But Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I really didn't have very much. Yeah, I hit some good shots but as a whole I feel like for me, I mean, I had my C game, B minus game. And that was the first time I had contended in -- obviously, any PGA Tour is a big event, but a World Golf Championship is a big event with not even close to my best game. And it all caught up with me on Sunday. That was unfortunate.

I feel you can definitely learn from the positive and the negative weeks, of course, it's just a matter of what you take out of them. And, yeah, in terms of those bad weeks, I just have to try to figure out, I feel like we kind of have to minimize those and just to stop them from happening, basically.

Q. You played some match play now both as an amateur and professional a little bit. Do you have a favorite match play story?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Definitely none from here last year, that's for sure.

I mean the U.S. Am at Chambers was really, really fun for me because -- Greller, who was on the bag for me at the time, I kind of fought back. I was in a great position in stroke play, and was way outside, and fought back the last ten holes to even make match play to get a good seed. Every single match I was probably 2-down at the turn or at least 1-down, and I came back to win to get to the semis.

And that semifinal match against Michael Weaver, I was five down through ten. Everybody knows in the U.S. Am, you get to the finals, you're in the Masters and the U.S. Open. It's hard not to think about, to come all that way, and be five down through ten was not exactly how I wanted to go down.

We fought back. I got it to 2-down with three to go and lipped out about a 12-footer on 16, and he ended up making it to close me out. I've always wondered what would have happened if that putt would have gone in. Although I lost, it's still pretty fun and pretty cool story for me.

Q. What was working for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Pretty much everything. I just wasn't playing very well. I didn't -- I felt like I didn't have a good game plan. I let the fact that I was playing Jordan on Friday affect me too much. I just couldn't stop thinking about that match. And I've got to win these first two matches, so that match means something.

And I think for some reason, once I lost on Wednesday, just all the sails were taken out of me. Now I have to win. Then I have to beat Jordan. It is what it is.

And it's so odd why match play gives you such a different mind frame or strategy toward the course, but I feel like it does. And, yeah, I just struggled with that personally. But at the end of the day, I wasn't playing very well. So the strategy couldn't have really overcame, I felt like, how I played. So hopefully both parts will be better this year.

Q. To be realistic, at what point from your rookie season did you feel like you were the guy to beat that week or one of the guys to beat?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Like before the tournament started?

Q. Yes, just the attitude you had coming into the week.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I probably never felt like that my rookie year. I felt like if I played well, I would win or I could win. But like the confidence I had this year at Malaysia, I felt like I was the person to beat because I was playing well and I liked the course.

But in terms of my rookie year, I don't think I could honestly say that I ever went into the tournament saying that I was --

Q. Did it take winning to start thinking that way?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Probably. I think it did. Like I said, I felt like I could win and I should be in contention and have a chance to win. I don't think anybody can honestly say they're the person to beat if they haven't even won yet.

Q. This is kind of spinning off something Dustin said in Mexico, where he said that his name is one that people wouldn't want to see on a leaderboard. Whose name do you not want to see on a leaderboard, and do you think you're one of those names?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I would like to think so. I feel like I've proven myself when I have a lead or when I get up around the lead. I mean, both times, in Malaysia and in Hawaii, I've closed it out pretty well. And I'd say Mexico is the only time -- or was the only time that I didn't. And barring four holes, I only lost by three, which is just beyond crazy to me, how poorly I played Sunday.

I think DJ is up there in terms of names. I mean, he just didn't make very many mistakes. And he drives the ball so well. And he's just very, very even keel. I think there's a lot of guys that are up there and I would hope my name would be included. But I'd say I'm not quite as even keel and whatever emotion-wise as him.

Q. Is anybody?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Is anybody the same as him? Probably not, no. I mean, Rory is very, very calm. But I'd say he can get more excited than DJ can. But in terms of when something bad happens, they both will mutter to themselves and then they move on.

Q. Coming into the match play event, when you get on the ground, you talk about the different mindset. How different is it? Just a feeling as soon as you get here?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It is. I think it's the -- at least how I feel or how I felt this year coming in, I never like thought of -- it's not a worrisome feeling, but it's just like you're nervous. Like I was -- it's weird. I don't know why I'm nervous. I don't feel like I should be nervous. I'm sure I will be on the tee shot. You're nervous about who is going to be in your group. At least I'm nervous, am I going to get through my pod. Who cares? I either am or I'm not. You think about it before you leave, whereas a Sunday or Monday a couple of days before the tournament you're like, is it Thursday yet? You're just going through the motions. It's really weird. I don't know why I felt that way. I don't know because of my performance last year, so it would be my second one. It's odd because you obviously have three matches and you have to beat everyone else in your pod to get through.

For me this year it's just more so. All I'm focused on right now is trying to beat Chris Wood. And I don't even know who I play -- I understand I'm going to play both the other guys, but I don't know who I'm going to play which day or the other. Right now all I'm focused on is the first match.

Q. It's just a one-on-one thing?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yes, it is. And that's the thing that is so different because especially a week like this when the conditions can change so much. I think this will be a very interesting place to have a stroke play tournament on. You can get some tremendous waves. You can have great weather one morning and then blow like 40 in the afternoon. You get some complaining from the guys. But now you can't complain, because the only person you're playing against is in your group. That part is a little bit different. Yeah, it really is, it is you versus the other guy, mano y mano.

Q. Since you can't predict how you are going to play tomorrow or how Chris is going to play or anybody else, how can someone possibly say I like this group I'm in, I got a good draw?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah. And I understand that Golf Channel, they need things to talk about, but to look at some groups and be like, oh, that's an easy group to get through. Well, one of those guys has to get through. How do you think they feel? I have to play him who's won however many tournaments and he's won this. Some people -- I don't know if this is Matt Fitzpatrick's first match play probably in terms of this. He won the U.S. Am. He's obviously good at match play. He's won on the European Tour. And that's just because this is his first time, he doesn't have a record, and people might say something about him.

Everyone here is really, really, really good. The top 64 in the world. And anybody can win any day. And it is funny how it's like, this is the group of death or this is that. Let's all just calm down and go play golf.

Q. Do you think you have a good group?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I just went through this. I'm not biting the bait that easily.

Q. Win or lose, this weekend or your match, so forth, what do you want to see out of your game progressing toward that first major out there? What do you want to see?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I just want to -- I feel like if I play well and I do what I should then I'll have a great chance to move through. It is weird because you can play great and not even have a chance to win the tournament. So that's something that's difficult to judge your game in terms of a performance or result, finish-wise. But I want to go out and hit good shots. I want to drive it well. Kind of get consistency around the greens and kind of ball positioning, because that's obviously so crucial at Augusta.

Yeah, just gaining confidence more than anything. Unlike the last couple of events where I was maybe losing a little bit, but I wasn't playing as bad as the score showed. But again, I wasn't executing properly around the tee or around the green. So I think just gaining some confidence in those aspects would be definitely big for me. And whatever the result is, it is.

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Justin Thomas, thank you.

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