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March 24, 2018

Justin Thomas

Austin, Texas

JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Justin Thomas into the interview room after his 2-1 victory over Kyle Stanley. First of all, get comments on your match today.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Matches or match?

JOHN BUSH: It was a long day. The most recent match.

JUSTIN THOMAS: It was a hard fought match out there with Kyle. I had to play a little bit more holes. I wasn't quite as hot as I have been the last few matches. I played solid enough. My iron game and wedge game wasn't anything close to how sharp it was the last couple days. But it was still pretty solid. I made a couple key midrange putts when I needed to.

JOHN BUSH: You earn a date tomorrow morning with Bubba Watson.

JUSTIN THOMAS: It will be a tough match, just like all of them are. He's obviously in good form to make it this far. And I've always thought he's one of the most impressive players I've played with and watched go around a golf course. So I'm sure he's sending it around here. Hopefully I won't get too intimidated by it.

Q. After wisdom teeth and strep throat, could you have imagined you would play this well this week?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I had a pretty serious conversation with my dad on Monday if I was going to play. I never want to play in a tournament, first off if it's going to hurt my health. If I was sick or really sick, me trying to play this week wasn't going to do me any good. But also if I feel like I don't have a chance to win, it's also really -- to me, I don't understand the point of playing, if I don't feel like I can.

So I luckily immediately got on antibiotics and felt better on Tuesday, probably roughly 75, 80 percent and then every day got so much better every day. I don't think I had strep throat, but the doctor that I saw said I had it, but I don't think that is cured that fast. But whatever it was, it wasn't very fun. And I'm just really happy to make it this far, for sure.

Q. How close do you think you were to not playing?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was 50/50 on Monday. There was probably -- I played nine holes Monday. There were probably 15 or so people that watched me play nine holes, and you find those 15 people and see if they thought I was ready to play in a golf tournament. Some of the shots I hit were pretty funny.

Q. 50 or 15?

Q. You could move to No. 1 in the world tomorrow, which is a big deal in itself, but an even bigger deal right before the Masters. Would you embrace all the attention that comes with that? It would seem to kind of multiply the hype on you before Augusta.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean the timing, I don't care when it happens, I just hope it happens and it happens for a while.

I don't know what to say because I've never experienced it. I don't know what's going to come with it. But I just hope it happens tomorrow.

Other than that then I hope it happens the next tournament. But I'm worried -- it will and would be a great accomplishment. But I'm just worried about trying to beat Bubba Watson tomorrow.

Q. Maybe Alex Noren may be playing the best of anybody here. But what impresses you about his game?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I actually don't think I've ever played with Alex. So in terms of watching him plod his way around a golf course, I've never do it. But obviously as well as he's playing, he's pretty unbelievable. We practice at the same course, Bear's Club in Jupiter. I've seen him there quite a bit. He has a crazy short game, puts so much spin on the ball. But I guess his style or his fundamentals, how he goes about the golf swing is very repetitive. He knows what he's doing every time, or eliminates the left side of the golf course or whatever it may be. And it's working very well.

Q. Totally different format. Can you compare your form through Saturday with any of the other tournaments you've won? Do you see any similarities or is it just too hard to compare?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's hard to compare just because as so-so as I played the first two days, I would have been about the middle of the pack. But as well as I played the last -- Friday and then this morning, I mean those were two really, really good rounds of golf, for me, at least.

I didn't quite play as well this afternoon, but as a whole I just have -- I've done what I've been trying to do in a stroke play events. I haven't been making many bogeys. My short game has been pretty tidy. I haven't been chipping it as well as I like. I'm keeping myself in every hole, which is good.

Q. Considering you've got two more matches tomorrow, at least one tomorrow, you haven't been behind all week, I know it's early in the match, but at least to feel it before you get to a Sunday?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was hoping to never trail this whole week. I thought that was unbelievable that DJ did it that last year.

I'm going out there this afternoon, and I was like, Man, I have got a chance of doing this too. Then I missed a three-footer on 2 and shot that out the window. Put my back against the wall a little bit. I hope not to experience it again this week.

Q. Having won a major championship, you've kept going upwards, which not everyone would do, sometimes people slip back, but has that been a source of relaxation for you, a calmness for you, helped you out? What's been the key to keeping that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Just really the process that's gone into it. All the hard work in the off weeks, the work during the tournaments, getting the amount of proper rest.

I mean, my body the last -- probably the last six, eight months, I've been in the best shape that I've been in, which is huge in weeks like this, to keep my stamina up. And at the end of those major championships, some people may be running out of gas, I'm still going. That's just as important, if not more important, than anything.

My confidence level is just higher. I know that I have the game to play at the top of the top. Maybe if I'm not with my "A" game, I just know how to manage my way around golf courses better. But it's just been a lot of hard work and I'm just trying to ride this hot streak as long as I can.

Q. I'm curious if you have or you had any room of compassion when you are competing at this level?
JUSTIN THOMAS: To be perfectly honest, I'm trying to beat everybody as bad as I possibly can. This isn't really a sport to feel bad for anybody, especially yourself. If I'm winning by 7, I want to win by 8. If I'm winning by 2, I want to win by 3. I never want to take the foot off the gas.

Q. What do you consider one of the more important shots this afternoon?
JUSTIN THOMAS: This afternoon? That putt on 15 was huge after just a terrible wedge, another terrible wedge shot and a pretty bad putt as well. To have about a six, seven-footer on the read that I'd already missed two of, about half a ball to a ball out to the right. And twice I hit it too hard when I was reading it with softer speed.

So it's funny how that always happens. You have a putt late in the round when you need it and it's a putt that you haven't had success with earlier in the day. If I miss that, he's got all the momentum in the world and I'm only 1-up with 3 to go, and he could win the match outright, let alone an extra hole. To make that putt to stay 2-up with three to go was huge.

Q. On 13, how do you play it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I can't play that hole. I lose it, like, 75 percent of the time. I really am hoping to get over that tomorrow. But, man, I've struggled on that hole. I've gone for it. I've laid up. I've laid up in the water. I've hit driver in the water. I don't know.

I hit it perfect today, I just hit another terrible wedge shot. That back pin is so hard to wedge it to. The front pin, it's not a hard wedge shot if it's anywhere except for that back pin. I can obviously get there, but you can get some pretty sketchy lies back there. If I could pick a good lie in the rough back there, I'd take it every time, but unfortunately you can't. If you get a bad lie, you can chip it in the water in a heartbeat. I am just praying that I can somehow play that hole tomorrow and maybe win it.

Q. What did you hit off the tee today?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I hit 4-iron today.

JOHN BUSH: Justin Thomas, best of luck tomorrow.

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