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January 3, 2018

Justin Thomas

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

ALEX URBAN: We would like to welcome Justin Thomas to the interview room here at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Our defending champion. Just want to get your opening feelings on being back here to defend as the reigning FedExCup champion. Obviously pretty big year for you and you're back at a place that really helped propel that run.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's great to be back anywhere that you had the opportunity to defend and I'm fortunate enough to where I'm going to be able to do that a lot more than I have in the past this year and I'm very excited for it. But it's obviously a tremendous place here at Kapalua. The views are unbelievable, it's a fun golf course. For a lot of us that have taken this long time off in terms of competition it's kind of an easier way to ease back into it, just with the scores being low and the fairways and greens being generous. But yeah, it should be a fun week.

ALEX URBAN: Before we open up for some questions, I'm sure everyone's probably a little confused as to why we have a sheet over this thing here. This is actually the new tournament trophy commissioned by Sentry and I thought no one better to unveil it to the world than our defending champ. So JT, if you want to take the top of it off there, unveil it for everyone.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Oh, wow. Okay.

ALEX URBAN: A couple of words on the trophy. Sentry worked with Makai Glass here on Maui, so it's a locally made trophy. It features a whale and a wave, two symbols of Maui, and it's kind of fashioned in Sentry's corporate logo. It's nice locally made Maui trophy here, so this is what we're playing for here this week.

JUSTIN THOMAS: That's awesome. I would love to take that with me here in five days.

ALEX URBAN: Also much heavier than you imagine. It's 30 or 40 pounds.

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't want to touch it yet. I hope to find out.

ALEX URBAN: Open it up to questions.

Q. I just asked D.J. about having a five-win season, that's happened a couple of times, but will we see a 9- or 10-win season again any time soon? Do you feel like you're capable of something that impressive or the people on TOUR could do that, or is the depth too much?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I think not anybody, but there's a handful of guys that are capable of a huge-win season like that. But that being said, with some of the bigger names or guys playing less, it's obviously going to be more difficult. Guys playing 17 to 22 events, I mean that's, that would be pretty strong. Although guys like Tiger, obviously, did it, but I think he's in another realm when it comes to that conversation. But it is so deep. And not that it wasn't deep then, but it's just, I mean you can look at last year, I don't know how many multiple winners we had, but there was -- I don't want to guess what, five or six maybe, five. So it is difficult, but at the same time I do think that it is possible and could happen in the next five or 10 years. But who knows.

Q. He said he was capable. You obviously feel you're capable of doing it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I do, yeah. I don't know if I ever will, but you never know what's going to happen in this game. I don't know what I'm going to shoot tomorrow. So I can't tell you if I am going to do it or not, but I feel that I can, I just don't know if I will.

Q. Jordan mentioned that you kind of reached out to him like on a more serious note about how to handle the success, for lack of a better word, and just your input on that. What were you curious about, what did you guys talk about, that sort of thing?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's probably nothing crazy or nothing that you guys probably couldn't guess, but just the expectations standpoint. I understand that I'm going to be expect a lot more not only from fans, peers, but from you all and probably going to be reminded of that quite often, so I just have to deal with it. I can't compare any years to past years or last year, I just have to, it's just golf so I just have to go out and do what I'm doing and just don't get affected by that stuff. I think that was the main thing I took out of it. And I'm obviously going to be pulled a lot more different ways now than I was last year or the year prior, so I need to learn how to manage my time better. And just in reality just figure out what I need to do and what I don't need to do to make sure that my game is where it needs to be, because, obviously, there's a lot of things and a lot of people that in terms of media or whatever it may be that I like, I enjoy, I enjoy talking to, but there's times where I need to, if my game's not ready I may not be able to do that. Whereas other weeks, yeah, I can knock a couple of these things out. So I think it's just at the end of the day remembering that I'm still a professional golfer and I need to make sure that my game is good enough to possibly beat everybody that week.

Q. Going back to your goals last year. Just curious, there was a couple items on the list that were very specific, strokes gained tee to green, comes to mind immediately. Can you talk about the thought process of how you came up with those more esoteric goals?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's just looking at previous years goals or previous years stats. I felt like that some of the stats that I had in my goals last year were stats that I wanted to improve on or felt that if I did improve on I would win more. So that -- or looking at some of the best ball strikers or guys that I, not idolize, but like guys that I'm envious of how they hit the ball and I'm like, this person, he's this strokes gained tee to green, so I wanted to be that sort of thing. It's the same with the rest of my game. I mean, yeah, you look at Rickie out of the bunker, yeah, I would love to have his sand save percentage. Yeah, I would love to have whatever's strokes gained putting. Obviously everyone wants to have the best stat in whatever the category is. I just felt that the ones that I had written down specifically were the ones that I really needed to improve on to have a year like I did last year.

Q. To follow that up, did last year raise your expectations of what a great season is and what would be a great season this year for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I think that -- I mean, I think I made it verbal, I don't know when it was at some point that a great season last year would require a Major and I think, I mean it doesn't change at all. I could win a lot of times which is a goal or even win it at all if you win it's a good season, but I want more consistency in my game. Obviously I would take the year I had last year, I mean from start to finish for the rest of, for every year in the rest of my career and I would be fine with it, but I know that's not going to happen, so, as a whole, I just want to get more consistency, I want to have more chances to win, I want to stop missing cuts, which just irritates the heck out of me and just kind of stop having those 40ths and 50ths place finishes. I feel like I'm good enough that I should be inside the Top-10, Top-20 pretty much every time I play, so I just need to get better at that.

Q. So is the goal one Major and then anything that happens after that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's not specific, I mean I have plenty of goals, but I don't share those, but I and just like you were saying in terms of what a great season is, a great season would require a Major.

Q. Having a year like you had last year, does that elevate your hunger?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Surprisingly it didn't. I don't know, it just was a weird year last year. It was obviously a great year and really enjoyable, but just I think the timing of all the wins were just odd. Like Korea I was just so shot that -- I obviously was very pleased and happy that I won, but I was just so ready to do nothing that I didn't even want to celebrate, I just wanted to go home and lay in bed for like three days. PGA I was so drained from that that I had three or four straight days of media and then after that it was like, okay, I have to get ready for the playoffs. Boston, I'm in the middle of the playoffs. So it's like I just -- but it was good, you don't, yeah, you want to enjoy the victories, you want to celebrate, but I swear I celebrate my friends' victories more than I do my own. It's bizarre but it's like, when you win, I'm exhausted, I'm tired, I want to keep doing it and I know this is kind of irrelevant to what you were saying, but it just was, I never was like, man, like I really, because of I won this tournament, I really want to do it more. It's like, man, I just want to win because I like winning and I like trophies and I like beating everybody else and that's enough hunger and motivation for me, I think.

ALEX URBAN: Justin, good luck this week in your defense.


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