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February 25, 2018
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
DOUG MILNE: Like to welcome the winner of the 2018 Honda Classic, Justin Thomas. Congratulations on your eighth career PGA TOUR win and second of the season. You move to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings, a lot of other things.
With all that said, a few thoughts of what's going through your mind.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Just finally kind of unwinding right now. This was a hard win, it was. I tried to stay really patient out there. There was a lot of great players that were up around the lead or even tied for the lead at one point, and you know, it's a place where you can be seven, eight back, and you have a chance to win because you don't know what's going to happen.
I don't know, just something about this one, I was very calm and comfortable kind of those first 14 holes, and that's the first time I've had to play the Bear Trap in that much pressure, and it was pretty nerve-wracking. To get it done this week, you know, I was just very excited and it just was -- it felt great to get it done.
Q. Can we start with the wedge; did you have any choice but to lay up, especially after you hit the green? It's not an easy birdie from there. You probably know that.
JUSTIN THOMAS: It never entered my mind. The rough out here is so penal. It's so long, and my ball was sitting down. It just was never an option to try to go for the green. Even if I did, it's not like I was going to make a three. I was going to make a four at the best, and I have a lot confidence in my wedge game.
I knew if I got to a decent number that I was going to be able to get inside ten feet. You know, that's all I wanted was a chance to try to get into a playoff and then ended up hitting a great wedge.
Q. What kind of wedge was it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I had 117 hole and it was a gap wedge.
Q. I know sometimes guys don't remember exactly the moment of euphoria, but do you remember what you said when the winning putt went in? It was fairly apparent on television?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I do. (Laughter) I didn't know that was obviously going to be on TV or I wouldn't have said it. I'm sorry. Please don't fine me very much, PGA you are too.
Yeah, that's not something I wanted to get on TV. It just was an emotional win and I was happy to get it done. You know, it was an exciting -- what I said, it obviously wasn't out of frustration or anything. I did not know that was on TV, so I apologize to anybody that heard it, or everybody that heard it.
Q. I wasn't fishing. Obviously euphoria of the moment, what it was about.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, and I kind of -- you know, I was just excited because I was nervous and I felt like just that back nine, so many things happened and Luke was playing so well.
There was a brief moment where I looked like I was going to have a chance and 16, I miss and then he looked like he had a chance, and then 17 we both have great up-and-downs and I saw Alex parred 18. We know we make a birdie, we can win, and he hits the green and I don't. So it's just kind of back and forth.
Coming up 18 after that second shot, I definitely felt that he was an advantage and he had the better opportunity to win. So yeah, I guess I let my emotions out there. Sorry.
Q. What were your emotions on 5 tee?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I didn't even know it hit the rocks until I asked Doug. Because it was going right at it but it was kind of ballooning. You could see it was floating a little bit. I wasn't sure if it was going to get there or not. And then as sad as it is to say, we didn't see any sand come up, like it does on some of the greens (laughter).
We figured it probably didn't land on the green ask we kind of heard a click, and Jimmy looked at that -- I had no idea and he had no idea, and then all of a sudden, I saw it almost went in and the crowd was kind of going in. He was like, "What happened?"
I was like, "I don't know, but I have like 12 feet, so give me my putter. I don't know where it is."
But I was walking up there and people were saying stuff and Doug was right there and I asked him, did it hit the rock and he said yes. Got lucky.
Q. Seven wins in your last 31 starts. Where does this one rate in terms of difficulty?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It was very difficult for sure. I mean, I'm not going to give you an exact answer in terms of ranking them, but it was really hard. It just was those last -- the back nine, those last five holes, are so difficult. And I felt I was playing so well and I had some great opportunities. Made a great up-and-down on 12. Great birdie on 13.
Didn't hit a very good wedge on 14, but I don't know how that putt didn't go in on 14. And then, you know, great up-and-downs on 15, 17, and I just hit some really, really well-executed shots coming down the stretch. I haven't done that on this difficult of holes before.
I guess you could argue, you know, PGA, there was definitely some difficult holes, but at that time, I had a three-shot lead versus being tied and one swing equals a double on those holes. It just was a big confidence booster, really.
Q. You talked last night about this being maybe a consequential opportunity in your list of victories. Where do you put this, I would expect behind the PGA, but among your other seven wins, where do you rankings this one?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. I mean, it's tough. But I can't really give you an exact answer in terms of ranking. I would say that that PGA is first and then the rest are tied for second, I don't know (laughter). I'm very pleased with all of them.
Q. You talked so much after THE TOUR Championship about getting advice about how to follow up a five-win season, how to, did you feel pressure the early part of the season, and winning twice, do you feel some pressure off of you that you've done so well so quickly?
JUSTIN THOMAS: This definitely takes the pressure off me. I was starting to feel a little bit -- what I was pleased with with myself and I said this to my dad, said this to Jimmy, everyone on my team; I want to be more consistent this year and I want to have more chances to win.
Obviously I would love to win five times every season and if that meant my exact stats from last year, I'll take that every single year. But I feel like when I give myself a chance to win, I feel comfortable and I feel like I can get it done, and that's why this year I wanted to do so, more.
I was four holes away from probably winning Phoenix. You know, one round away from having a great chance to win L.A. Sony, just a cold putter away from having a great chance to win that. Kapalua, I wasn't really close. Actually I wasn't remotely close (laughter). I was a little rusty there.
But I've been happy with how consistent I've been, but without any wins, I'm constantly being reminded. It's nice to get it a little bit off my back.
Q. You move ahead of Jordan in the World Rankings for the first time in your career. Did that mean anything to you as someone who is constantly being compared to him?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not really because there's still two more spots that I want to climb.
Q. Is that obviously the next goal, to get to No. 1?
JUSTIN THOMAS: There's a lot of things that I want to achieve that are going to result in that, but I mean, I think it's pretty well known that any top golfer, any golfer wants to be No. 1 in the world. I think that would be kind of ludicrous to not be a goal, Top-10, Top-20 in the world player. But I just need to keep my head down and keep the gas pedal down and continue to work hard and continue to do the things that I'm doing in my off-weeks to give myself chances to win.
Q. What was the decision-making process after Luke hit his shot left?
JUSTIN THOMAS: We didn't change anything. It was a pretty perfect 5-wood number. I had 259 hole, 239 front. The wind was pretty much just straight off the right, and that 5-wood, it's been just a great, great club for me. I've hit some really clutch, really great shots with it. You know, versus I kind of go back and forth between that and a 2-iron, and I wouldn't have been able to hit that shot with a 2-iron by any means, just being able to hold that green.
I just was kind of trying to hold it against the wind so it would land soft enough to hold the green. I knew as long as I didn't completely whiff it, as long as I somewhat hit it, I was going to get it over the water where I was looking.
It definitely went a little right of where I was looking but I hit it well enough that it didn't kind of balloon in the wind and it just was holding. I feel like when you play conservative in a situation like that, it's kind of like match play. If I decide to lay up, he hits that great shot in there, I hit it to 12 feet, he makes it, I miss, I lose. It's like I need to continue to try to make four. I felt like if I made four, I wasn't going to lose the hole.
Q. Do you feel like you're playing better than you did last year, not necessarily results-wise, but just the way you're playing?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I do.
Q. Can you expand on that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, I feel very confident in pretty much every part of my game right now. I just have really, really played well for a couple tournaments in a row now, which is great.
Man, I hit some great drives this week when I needed to. Hit some really, really good irons. I hit some great wedges. Had some great up-and-downs, and really made some great putts. So so yeah, I feel like my game is in a very good spot at the moment.
Q. One of the other things TV picked you up saying was, "Go" when your ball was in the air on the playoff. Were you really confident you were fine?
JUSTIN THOMAS: If I had to put my life on it, I probably wouldn't say anything. I knew -- I shouldn't say I knew, I was 95 percent sure I was going to get over the water, but I was 60 percent sure I was going to get over the bunker.
It was getting pretty dark to where I couldn't see it, and as sad as it is, all I was looking at was the water to see if it splashed, and it didn't. So I figured I was in the bunker and then people started clapping and I could kind of see some little white dot on the green, and I was like, we hit the green.
Q. Luke probably had the box for the entire back nine, frankly, which means on 15 and 17, you're following after he's already in pretty good shape. When you talk about pressure with a tournament on the line, did that add to it at all?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, a little bit. I know those are -- I felt like if I could get to those holes square or better with him, that I would have a little bit of an advantage, just because he likes to work the ball right-to-left, and with the wind coming off the right, those are very, very difficult iron shots. I mean, they are difficult for anybody.
Really the only -- the Bear Trap would have been a great setup Bubba this week, to kind of his his hold-hook irons in there would have been perfect. For a right-handed golfer, those holes with the east wind this week played very tough. He.
Just kept making putt after putt. It was unbelievable. I counted, he had nine putts through eight holes in the back nine. It's pretty hard to lose your tee unless I start making a lot of birdies on that back nine. But yeah, he was getting it at least in play, so I had the opportunity to hit some good shots. But those aren't holes you're trying to be aggressive. I'm just trying to hit the green. I put it in a decent enough spot on both holes.
Q. Last year you missed the cut, and you come back and win, and this time Rickie is there to return the favor. What did he say to you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, I didn't really get to see him for a little bit, but you know, he just said congrats. We kind of have a little inside joke between us two that he brought something out for me. But really, other than that, I was kind of the in middle of a bunch of stuff. It was different than last year where he had to come off to sign his scorecard, so I was kind of waiting there, so I caught him when we were walking and we were able to have a bit more of a moment, you could say and today was a quick, congrats, hey, I'll call you in an hour or something like that.
Q. Two wins, two playoffs. Anything different, more stressful about this one than Korea?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, I don't know.
Q. Not asking to you rank them?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I know. I wasn't going to. It's just they are both easy holes, but can be hard, if that makes sense, because they both had water around the green, hitting the fairway was pivotal, extremely important on both, and they both had a very similar wind direction in terms of hitting the shots into the greens.
It just was really, it was about execution. I was playing well at both of them, so it's not that I was scared to hit a bad shot, type of thing, like in you're not playing well, I may have stepped up on that 5-wood and bailed left because I didn't want to hit it in the water, type thing. But both in Korea and here, I was confident enough in my game to where I could just kind of step up and hit a golf shot.
Q. With all these wins, you learned a lot of things I guess. What is the next thing you would like to learn to add to your more knowledge to be perfect golfer?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, if I knew what I would learn, I wouldn't have to learn it (laughing). I'll figure it out when I do learn it. You know, I'm trying to learn every round, every tournament I play. But yeah, that kind of defeats the purpose of learning it if I already knew it. So I'll let you know whenever I find out I guess.
Q. With the crowd following Tiger, don't you think the eventual winner deserves to have the largest gallery?
JUSTIN THOMAS: To be honest, I don't care. I'm sitting with the trophy, so I'm fine with it.
I did say that to Jimmy, it's so weird, it was a good gallery, good crowd, but it wasn't obviously anything big. It wasn't anything remotely close to Tiger's. But he fully deserves that and he is the needle. He moves the needle. He's the reason probably why the attendance this week was as high as it was, and you know, they weren't coming out here to watch Luke List and Justin Thomas. They were coming out here to watch Tiger, so I don't blame them. I'd go watch him, too, instead of me.
Q. Did you think about that walking to 14?
JUSTIN THOMAS: About what?
Q. Just about the size of the gallery. Could you help but notice, as he's coming off 9 and you're heading to 4?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Oh, 4 tee. I thought you said 14. Yeah, a little bit. I can tell, you you can just kind of see those holes. Like when you get to, when you're on 1 green, you can kind of like see a little bit out there, like by 4, I guess, you can kind of see enough and when you're coming up 3, you can kind of -- coming off the tee, you can see there on the par 3 on 7, and when you're up by the green, you can see him go up to 8 green.
So you kind of always know where he is, or know what's going on. It just kind of just so that happened we were crossing paths. It's funny how our gallery went with him and Luke and I just kept playing (laughter).
Q. Speaking of galleries. On 16, Luke hit a great shot. Looked like you said something to a fan or a fan said something to you.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, on the tee. We were walking up on the tee and this guy, I don't know who he was talking to, but sounds like it was me. He said something like -- he was like, "I hope you hit it in the water, hit it in the water," something like that. I just kind of like looked back there. Didn't say anything.
Just, again, I feel like there's no place for that, and I hit it and my ball is in the air and it's not -- it's in the middle of the fairway and he's yelling for it to get in the bunker. I was like, okay, I've had enough. So I just turned around and asked who it was, and he didn't want to say anything, now that I had actually acknowledged him. So he got to leave a couple holes early.
I don't want to kick someone out just to kick them out. It's just it's so inappropriate. We're out here trying to win a golf tournament. I would have done it if he said it to Luke, just like Rory did to the guy that said something to me at L.A.
Just because you're standing behind the ropes doesn't mean that you can -- I don't care how much I dislike somebody, I'm never going to wish that kind of stuff upon them. I felt it was inappropriate, so he had to go home.
Q. As someone who is close to Tiger, what did you make of him being in contention this week?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was very, very impressed with how he played this week, because you can -- he can get it around Torrey. He's played and won enough at that place, and yeah, driving is a premium there, but he can still get it around there and you can get it around there, if you know what you're doing.
Here, you can't drive it like that and get it around. So he obviously drove it a lot better. He played a lot better. From what I heard or saw, stats were great.
But it was funny because every other time that I've had a chance to win or in L.A., I get a text from him or hear from him, you know, kind of giving me a little advice or just kind of wishing me luck. Got crickets last night (laughter). I knew he had one thing in mind, and we both had the same thing in mind, so I thought that was pretty funny.
DOUG MILNE: Justin, congratulations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports