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February 24, 2018

Justin Thomas

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

JACK RYAN: We'd like to welcome Justin Thomas to the interview room here at The Honda Classic.

Yesterday obviously wasn't you wanted and you weren't able to make a birdie but today you made six. What was the difference today?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Not a whole lot to be honest. It played quite a bit easier today just in terms of the strength and the wind. It was a little bit more out of the south today which made a couple of those harder holes a little bit easier, and the pins were easier today.

Yesterday it was set up brutal. I really played well yesterday. I didn't really get it close enough to the hole to make any birdies and when I did, I didn't make the putts. But today I just kind of stuck with the same game plan. I drove it better today, which was nice. I just hit some really quality shots.

Q. When do you get a sense --
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it did. I felt like it was.

Close to doing that. To play the Bear Trap 2-under was stealing, I felt like. Hit two really good iron shots in there and hit a great fairway bunker shot, and then to save up-and-down there on 16, as well.

It definitely, I felt like if I parred those holes in, I would have a great chance, but making those birdies hopefully will get me into the final group, but it will definitely give me a better chance.

Q. With this being kind of your adopted home area now, what would it mean to win here first of all, and second of all, will Rickie be here for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You'll have to ask him that, not me. I hope I give him the opportunity or the choice to come. But I've got a lot of golf in front of me before I worry about him coming here. But it would mean a lot. It means a lot to win any golf tournament. It would mean more the fact of how prestigious this golf tournament is and the list of winners that have won this event, and how strong of a field it is, difficult of a golf course.

You know, I've won -- half of my wins or a decent amount of my wins have been on easier golf courses, you could say, so it would be cool to get it done at a place like this.

Q. What is it about this course? You have a pretty good record here, T-3 couple years ago, barely missed the cut last year. Anything about this place suit you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not really. It really is just how you're playing. I've had a T-3 sandwiched between two missed cuts. I mean, I shot a thousand my rookie year and then played well my second year, and then yeah, just missed last year.

I don't know, I just -- I mean, I'm playing well right now, so that makes this golf course a lot easier when you're playing well. I hit it in so many hazards my rookie year because I wasn't playing well and it was windy and raining and I was in the bad draw. It was brutal, because I wasn't playing well.

You know, this is a golf course that you kind of can't fake your way around. You can definitely -- I mean, Berger did an unbelievable job today, I felt like how he clearly didn't have his best stuff but he had some great up-and-downs and really hung in there, and those birdies on the last two holes were pretty impressive to shoot even par.

Q. Can you describe the shots on 15 and 17?
JUSTIN THOMAS: 15 it was 185 to the hole and we were trying to land it about 175. The wind, it was weird today. It was supposed to be kind of east, southeast, and it kind of started getting more south, which means in a -- east, southeast means a lot of crosswind holes and when it's going south, it could flip into or down. It was tough to judge.

We were talking, Jimmy liked a 7-iron and I didn't, because that meant I had to start it over the water, or at least toward the right side of the green, and I just kind of felt like I could hold a little 6-iron in there, and I've been hitting that shot pretty well. I just hit it beautiful and kind of got up in the wind and landed soft and he had a great read there. I kind of didn't see it breaking as much and he saw it about a cup out and made it in the middle there.

17 was 189 hole, I think it was, something like that. Again, we're trying to land it, you know, something short. We're just trying to, there's a cover number that kind of, if you're right of the hole, that kind of takes the water out of play, at least if you cover that, and that was our main worry. It was a very similar shot, just trying to hold it. It wasn't as much off the right. It was straight in off the right. So just tried to hold a 6-iron in there and same thing, hit a great shot and great putt.

Q. Talked about wanting to play with Tiger and challenging you on Sundays. Is six shots close enough where you can keep an eye and think about him at all?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, there's a lot of golfers, not worried about, but there's a lot of golfers I'm trying to beat.

I don't know, anybody can get hot from six or five back or whatever it may be. Definitely if he starts making a charge, I'll know or I'll see. But not just because it's him, am I necessarily worried. It's just the fact of there's a lot of players there that could just as easily do what he could do, you know.

Q. You've lived here a few years now and you've played a lot of golf on these courses. Is there getting to be a comfort zone for you on bermuda and playing golf in this area that maybe you didn't have before you came here?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, probably a lot of it started in college, going to Alabama. I played in a lot of bermuda. I wasn't very good at it, or out of it. The rough being this overseeded, a lot of the hard part is judging the chipping out of bermuda and kind of the approach shots, if it's going to jump or whatnot.

Don't have to deal with that factor this week, but it's very long and very penal, so it's still hard to get out of it. But definitely the greens, I get a lot more comfortable with. I guess you could probably attest some of that to living down here but I would like to just think that I've improved, as well, as I've lived down here.

Q. What is your attitude when you hit a poor shot or have a poor hole? And how has that attitude changed after last year?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You just have to get over it. I mean, I'm never going to be one that, you know, say like a Matt Kuchar where he just, you know, golly gee and smiling and walking up to the green. That's not my personality.

I'm not promoting, you know, getting angry or slamming clubs or throwing clubs or whatever. That's not good for the game. That's not a good look. It's not a good look of a role model but for me I have my ways of getting it out. I say some things to Jimmy that probably don't need be repeated or heard by anybody, but I get it out and it's done with when necessary.

There's other days where I'm fine. I've been pretty patient and good this week but like any of us, we wake up days and we're just cranky and there's days where he probably doesn't like being around me much, but he's stuck with me. Unless he wants to find something else to do.

It's more about being patient and understanding that bad shots are going to happen, and that there's really not a whole lot you can do about it now but just try to make it up.

Q. You mentioned some of your wins have come on easy courses or track meets. When it is this tough, what specific memories are you relying on that kind of highlighted your grittiness?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Just it's so cliché but just golf. I've played so many hard courses over time. I mean, the PGA, it's a perfect example. It's very similar to this place where if you drive it well, you have some scoring clubs. If you're in control of your game and your irons, you can leave it in good spots to have good putts uphill, straighter putts, whatever it may be. But if you miss the fairway, it's a bit of a grind, and on some holes, especially.

So that, I'm sure I'll look back on a little bit tomorrow. In Korea it got pretty difficult there for a little bit with those wind conditions. Over time, I've had a lot of experiences where par is a good score, and you just learn how to make them and how to try to make the round as easy as possible on yourself.

Q. What's the hardest thing about trying to win for the first time? If you can think back to Malaysia.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not getting ahead of yourself. Not thinking about all the things that come with it. Not thinking how it's going to change your life, how bad you want to do it.

You know, you're constantly, or at least I was constantly reminded how I haven't won yet, but people like you (laughter). You know, trying to quiet that. But no, it's just it's difficult. I understand that. There's a reason there's only one every week. It means that that person was better than everybody else that week.

So it's not like everyone out here is getting participation trophies. That person that wins, they earned it.

Q. Did you do all that stuff?

Q. Did you get ahead of yourself, thinking how it would change your life?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't think so. I'd been through, not like it was a lot, but I had been through some failures to where I understood how it felt and what I did incorrectly. But I just, I don't know. I think I wouldn't have been able to do what I did on 15, 16, 17, that tournament; if I was thinking ahead, I wouldn't have been able to do that.

Q. Speaking about needing to get frustration out, is this a golf course that makes everybody more frustrated and more cranky, and how does that make the challenge for Sunday?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It can for sure. It's just because it's so difficult. Kind of like I touched on earlier, I thought Berger did a great job keeping his patience today. I thought there was a couple holes there for a bit where he may start kind of making some bogeys or fading away because you could tell he was getting a little frustrated and getting a little down, just because he wasn't playing well and he wasn't making any birdies, and it probably didn't help I was playing well.

He kept hanging in there and kept getting up-and-down and making pars, and balm, birdie, birdie, and now he has a chance at least tomorrow.

It's a difficult course. If you let it get to you, it can be frustrating, but if you go into it understanding and realizing it's difficult, then you just kind of embrace it and deal with it.

Q. You said the wind was weird. Do your knowledge and your caddie's knowledge combined, could predict this way?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess so. I mean, once you get out there and playing, you start understanding the tendencies and realizing that it's not coming from the direction it should. So you just kind of start playing it and just kind of play what you feel, I'm thing.

JACK RYAN: Thanks for your time. Good luck tomorrow.

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