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September 26, 2017

Justin Thomas

Jersey City, New Jersey

Q. First Presidents Cup, what's it been like so far?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Really good. I'm overwhelmed with everything and things like that but it was nice to get on the course and just go do a little bit of practicing, go play. Myself, Rickie, Charley and Phil, just went out and played I guess roughly 12 or 13 holes we played, 14 holes, and the course is in awesome. It's in such pristine condition. I'm excited to be wearing the red, white and blue for us this week.

Q. What's it like for you to transition from the FedExCup chase to now you've the go this sort of event, the first time, do you see it as a cherry on top of a great season?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it was kind of tough, you know, getting -- getting my mind right again. Because everything that happened Sunday it was a whirlwind. Took a lot out of me. Had fun Sunday night with all the guys and that was my first night spending together with my team and all the guys and captains.

So that was a lot of fun and then doing nothing Monday was really nice. I wanted nothing to do with golf. I just wanted to relax. Actually didn't even know where my golf clubs were this morning, so luckily my caddie had them. But yeah, just kind of getting a little bit of rest and just trying to get your mind ready for come Thursday.

Q. How is the course?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's great. The course is great. Beautiful day outside. Had some fans out there cheering us on. It was kind of going out and hitting some shots and getting the motions back a little bit, and I mean, I know I'm looking forward to tomorrow again to practice a little bit more and kind of get my game where I want it to be ready come when the tournament starts.

Q. Kind of a ruckus on the first tee shot --
JUSTIN THOMAS: Unfortunately it's a really hard tee shot. Especially today, the wind being a little off the left. It's a tough tee shot. And when your adrenaline is pumping and if it gets a little firmer, you can probably like burn a 2-iron down there, something like that, and have a short iron in.

But if it's into the wind or something like that, you're probably going to have to hit driver or definitely 3-wood. And it's a narrow fairway with water right there. For a newcomer like myself, if I'm hitting the first tee shot with the nerves going, that will probably be one of the harder tee shots I've had.

Q. Was there any motivation to not be on the team and end the winning streak --
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, because that would be like I want to win because I don't want to lose, you know what I mean. I know it's very broad but it's like, you know, I want us to win. I want us to retain the cup because that means we won and we're just another winning team. Not because of, you know, what you said.

But they have a great team. I mean, I think obviously this being my first one, I probably have looked at it a lot more -- or their team a lot more than I would have in past years. But I feel like they are one of the best teams they have had and we're going to need to play well.

Q. I assume with all the winning you've done lately, do you have to temper your excitement for this event, at least early in the week, to make sure you've got your legs under you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm still a little tired. I need probably a good night's sleep tonight, and just get the body feeling everything, how I want to again. It does take a lot out of you. I would love to be tired for that reason every time and the rest of my career.

It definitely is a little bit tiresome but once tomorrow I feel like comes and once I realize we are a day away from starting and Thursday, especially, I'm going to be really excited to go.

Q. Does it feel like you're a rookie?
JUSTIN THOMAS: A little bit. I don't feel like a rookie around the guys and they make me feel very welcome. But it's just, you know, some of the little things, like, hey, are we signing out there, like what's the policy on that. Or we want to play a couple holes; who is coming with us, this or that. Or we have the certain time slots we need to play and this and that. That kind of stuff, the little things, yeah, I feel like I'm a little bit of a rookie where I'm asking Phil or I'm asking Kuch. But for the most part, everyone's been very comforting.

Q. Those shoes, are those Team America?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No. Actually Michelle Wie got these for me. She knows I love sneakers and she does, too. She said she was going to make me up a pair for winning the PGA. Actually she got "Major Champ "on the back of them. That was pretty cool. It worked out. She was going to give me a pair for Presidents Cup anyway, just make a Nike ID. I told her to go crazy and do whatever she wanted. After the PGA, she added this to them.

They are my shoes. She got them as a gift for me. My feet aren't that small.

Q. After playing 23 consecutive Cups for Phil, how hard is that going to be to top that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I can't -- especially because I was 1 when he played in his first one, which is really crazy to think. I would love to see what kind of person he was then. I'm sure he was still the same kind of guy.

But it's crazy, it is. To be that good for that long and to have the reputation that he does, being that much of a leader, a role model in the team rooms and for us rookies to, or even guys like Rickie who has played in a lot of these team events, but I'm sure he still relies on Phil if he has any questions or anything like that. I don't know if it will ever be topped, I hope Jordan or myself or anybody else can give it a run but who knows.

Q. What stops that -- is it talent or performance, health?
JUSTIN THOMAS: For sure, that's the thing, you know, is this sport is very tough on your body. Or even just some clumsy accident at just the wrong time of year.

Think about it, for 23 years -- just to be, not only be healthy but especially at his age, too. That's another thing is he started at such a young age. Jordan started at a young age. There's only so many people that have an opportunity to do that because you have to start in your low 20s.

I would say definitely health. He's going to be someone who has game probably for another ten years. It's just a matter of if he's healthy enough and can still feel like he can go.

Q. Do you ask for pairings?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not really. I just want to go out there can do the best I can to get us a point in that match.

Q. You've obviously played team events --
JUSTIN THOMAS: The Walker Cup, which was my last event as an amateur.

Q. How did it go?
JUSTIN THOMAS: We destroyed them. (Laughter).

Q. Is this completely different?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's the same thing, essentially. We have foursomes and fourballs and singles. I was on Team USA for that one, Team USA for this one and hopefully the result goes goes the same.

Q. There's no fourballs --
JUSTIN THOMAS: There's not? Oh, you're right. Is it foursomes, singles, foursomes, singles -- really? I guess I forgot. I had to sit one morning. So I guess I blanked on what that was.

Q. What do you remember from that week?
JUSTIN THOMAS: From that week? Definitely hanging out with W. Having lunch with President Bush, it just was him telling the story of 9/11 and his entire day. We had assigned seating, all of us on the team, the captains, the managers.

It was a super long table and I happened to be assigned directly across from him. I was fortunate enough to kind of feel like I was -- I was a part of the conversation, probably a lot more so than other people. And just his story of his day from when he woke up to when he went to sleep is crazy, it really, really is.

And going out and playing a couple holes with him, just you can see, I feel like, why he was such a liked and loved guy. He treated all of us like we knew him for so long. As a 17-year-old kid, that's a pretty big deal when someone of that stature treats you like that. That definitely kind of sunk in my heart.

Q. Anything about the location, just the view, looking over at New York, that makes this place special?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it definitely is. I think any time that you can play for your country, it's great. But to do it in a place this close to New York City where obviously we've had some unbelievable and terrible things happen, obviously talking about 9/11, and what the city has done to rebuild and come back from that. We went to Firehouse 10 yesterday and that was pretty cool to see that. Those are people that putt in a lot of work and a lot of time and risked their lives just to make the city and the people of New York better.

That's just something small. We're playing for our country but we're playing for those guys just as much as we are for everybody else. I feel like the crowds here this week are going to be pretty rowdy, pretty loud, so I'm just glad to have him on our side.

JUSTIN THOMAS: I thought about that because it is such a young game right now. I was also thinking, is it going to stay young, or -- I feel like the young guys right now that are playing really well, myself, Jordan, Rickie, Berger, all of us. Obviously we're going to be older. We're going to be in our 30s at some point. But if we can stay -- keep playing well, stay competitive, keep pushing each other, then, like kind of goes with what you're saying, is do we keep that sixth, that kind of core six and kind of keep going and going forward?

I feel like there's a good chance that all of us do, at least four or five of us will continue to probably play well and hopefully play on a lot of these teams for consecutive years. Again, there's going to be a lot of other Justin Thomases, Jordan Spieths, Daniel Bergers, Rickie Fowlers, that are coming out of college that are going to want to take our place.

Q. How is it working with your assistant coaches?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's great. They are all great guys. They are easy to talk to, easy to get along with. I think that's what's nice about -- nice about this week is we pretty much knew them or know them well before this week starts.

So it's kind of just more -- but we can rely on them if we need to. We can ask them questions. I mean, if we need water, we need something, they have to go do it.

It's a lot different than, say, if you make it a team -- like say, I'm thinking of like a basketball team or an All-Star Team where you pick this coach or assistant coach, like in college or something like that, just as an example. You may know of that coach but you don't know them that well.

Whereas us, we've played against eve other for a while and we know each other really well. This has been great for all of us to be together and share these moments.

Q. Who is assigned to you?

Q. Having Phil in your pod, is that like having another assistant?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess so. The thing about Phil is that he's -- what's really cool is he's so involved in everything in this entire team; that if we need him to or if anybody needs him, he'll act as an assistant captain or he will act as a leader of that pod if we need him to.

If he wasn't in my pod and I went up to him, and if I need some help with this wind and I'm struggling, this or that, what do you think, he would help me just like Jim would. It's definitely nice having guys like him or Kuch to have on our team as not only good players but a good leader role.

Q. What's the first memory you have of seeing Phil playing?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Of seeing him play? I don't remember. I met him when I was probably nine or so at the Scotty Cameron studio when he was obviously still with Titleist. I just was there, you know, doing the deal, getting fit for a putter. It was my first time there, and Phil was actually waiting on me to get in. I walked out and he was right there, and met him and talked to him for 30, 40 minutes and he was the same guy he is right now.

It was really cool. I don't know if we've ever really talked about that but it was something as an eight or nine or 10-year-old, you remember stuff like that.

Q. (Inaudible.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess, without sounding too arrogant, I don't know how it happened. I guess some of the Titleist guys were at the junior world one year when I played well and they contacted us about the Junior Program that they had for guys. I just went out for a weekend and went to the test center or the studio. I'm very fortunate for that.

Q. It's only Tuesday but what's the biggest surprise so far?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Really, nothing's been a crazy surprise. I would say the amount of things we have to do, I guess you could say. Today was definitely the busiest day that we'll have.

This is a huge deal, it really is. And I knew that it was a huge deal but I guess I didn't really know all that came with it. Being on the Today Show, I know obviously Phil, Jordan or whoever were our spokes people, you could say, but that's a little different than just your normal tournament where, hey, you know, this local news channel want to talk to you. It's like, hey, the Today Show where millions are people are watching. It's cool for us and it gets us out there a little bit more.

So I would say just probably things we've had to do.

Q. Where is the FedExCup trophy?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I didn't bring it. Just set it in the team room all week.

Q. What have your interactions been with Tiger and what do you expect in the team room?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's been good. I've gotten to know Tiger well over the years. It's not like this week is a huge bonding week or anything like that or getting to know him better. Him not being with my pod, or for our team, as he calls it, it's just different. You know, he's with them, catch up here and there, dinner, whatever it may be. But it's just the same as any of the guys. He's willing to help. He loves us so much, which to me, is really cool and inspiring because for him to not be playing, as competitive as he is, and to be this involved and want us to feel as comfortable as we can be, and to want us to play as well as we possibly can, it means a lot, and it gives us a lot of, I guess positive vibes, you could say.

Q. At your level, are you still asking him questions?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'll ask Phil questions. I often like to ask guys stuff. If I see them hit a shot that I either can't hit or have a hard time hitting, I ask them. I mean, you have nothing to lose. The worst they are going to do is say I don't want to tell and you then you're in the same position you just were. 99.5 times out of a hundred, they are going to tell you, and it's probably going to end up helping you.

That's something that's kind of cool about our sport, especially weeks like this. Maybe you have to take advantage of it a little more than the normal events because they may not want to tell you when it's not a team competition.

I need to be picking Phil's brain as much as I can around the greens this week.

Q. Is there a shot you have a hard time hitting --
JUSTIN THOMAS: He can do so many things with the golf ball in terms of the spin and around the greens. Just little things like taking spin off the golf ball. I like to work the ball a lot, either with wedges and kind of get it moving left-to-right a lot or the other way sometimes. So maybe focusing on hitting it a little straighter or having normal, straight spin. Just anything. I mean, certain lies, bunkers, it's just anything that I have a hard time with, sort of thing.

Q. Any more shots in your short game repertoire?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I feel like you learn something new every couple months, or at least a couple times a year where you're just messing around on the chipping green and messing around on the course and you're like, that's cool, try it. I've learned many shots from Tiger messing around with him at his house and hitting different shots and hitting different shots that will spin, go straight up in the air or run out and go left on the green and stuff like that. That's the crazy but fun part about this game is that you continue learning the older and more you play.

Q. Having this dynamic, is it a good way to bridge the gap rather than a letdown straight after THE TOUR Championship?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I guess it just depends what happens this week. Hate to say that but it could be. Just, you don't know. It was nice to have a day off and kind of a slower golf related day today. I feel like I needed to get away. I mean, that was a grind, a grinding week last week, and then playing again the week before. So this being the third week in a row, you can get a little tired. The body can get a little worn down. So you just kind of have to take your time and manage your time well when you're not on the golf course or don't have something going on.

Q. What are you playing after this?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Malaysia and Korea, and Tiger's event.

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