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May 30, 2018

Justin Thomas

Dublin, Ohio

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Justin Thomas to the interview room here at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. No. 1 in the FedExCup and No. 1 in the world, newly crowned No. 1 in the world. You've obviously spent a lot of time with Mr. Nicklaus down in south Florida. Is this kind of a special week for you and just talk about this week.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, this is a place that I love coming to. It's a golf course that I really enjoy, it's a city that I like, it's the closest, about the closest I get to Louisville in terms of an event that happens every year. So this is, I get some friends to come and it just, it's as close as I can get to feeling a home event. But any time that you can play in Mr. Nicklaus's event, it's obviously a great honor as well.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.

Q. You were pretty close to winning last year or you were in contention anyway, I think Top-5, T-4, maybe. What's, what was sort of the difference between that and actually getting in the winner's circle, and what do you have to do this year to kind of get across?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I played well last year. That back nine I just had a couple things, I kind of had a stretch there like 11 through 15, that really I felt like basically cost me the tournament. I think I was like two or three back on those holes and hit a great drive on 11, hit a great second shot that kind of landed on the top that have bunker in the face -- or the grass and rolled back down on the down slope. So it was a pretty well-played hole that just kind of got a bad break and where I couldn't do anything and I end up making par there.

Then on 13 and 14 I hit great drives and great wedges in there. I hit it to about three and a half feet on 13 and missed it and eight feet on 14 and missed it and had 4-iron on 15 and made par. Those are four realistic birdie chances that I had that I just didn't capitalize on, but that's the difference of finishing fourth and winning.

Q. Are you a fan of the featured pairings the first two days, or maybe you heard Rory speak to that in terms of getting over-amped those first two days or keeping an eye on maybe the No. 2 player or No. 3 player in the world? How do you deal with that and what do you think?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't really look at it as featured pairings. It's just, we're playing within our category. The TOUR has always done, or at least from what I know, has always done that in terms of the pairings. Pairing the top guys, if you will, or the guys that they want to put together. It just so happens to be called the feature pairings. But you kind of get used to playing with the group of guys, like I played with Rickie in Charlotte. I haven't played with P. Reed in a while in competition, I'm thinking in the couple years or so, but I enjoy playing with him. So you get to, you kind of get familiar with it. I enjoy it. It's not anything that I look at differently or view differently than if I played with two other people, if you will.

Q. So it doesn't necessarily help you because you know you have to be --
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it doesn't help or hurt. It's still, I could be playing with two guys I've never heard of or I could be playing with P. Reed and Rickie and I'm still trying to beat everybody else and make a lot of birdies. So it's a lot more enjoyable between the shots when I can talk to my buddies.

Q. I know you haven't teed it up yet and it's only been a short amount of time, but does it, has it felt different as No. 1? Have you had a chance to enjoy it a little bit? And just being out in the range with the guys, do you feel different coming into a tournament? With that --
JUSTIN THOMAS: I enjoyed it for a couple days when I had the two weeks off, but after that it was over with. It's not, I wasn't really thinking about it. Like I said, it's odd because nothing comes with it. Like when you win a tournament, you win, you get a trophy, you get a lot of money, you do a press conference afterwards. Whereas, I was, I think I was in the middle of flying home when D.J. finished and I had been told and it was like, okay, I'm almost home, but when I wake up tomorrow, I mean I ended up staying up late enough to where I waited to refresh it and saw it and it was pretty cool. Seeing every other golfer in the world behind my name is, was a pretty fun thing. But in terms of teeing it up, I just have to, I think it worked out well having the two weeks off to get some rest. And then last week put some work in and get feeling physically well and mentally fresh. But, yeah, it's still golf and this field is always extremely strong and there's a lot of great players that I'm going to need to play well to have a chance to win this week.

Q. Did you take a screen shot of it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Why wouldn't you?

Q. There's obviously another big event going on later this afternoon. What has some of the trash talking been like with Rickie so far? And do you guys want to watch it together?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I have no desire to watch it with anybody but an Alabama fan. But, no, it hasn't really been much. He's very, very into Oklahoma State. He loves Oklahoma State, but he's probably not as crazy of a fan as I am. I just, I probably live and die with it a lot more. I don't know why. I don't know if that's a bad thing or not. I mean, like I said, it's not that he doesn't care, I mean he'll be very into it and he'll watch it all, but if Alabama doesn't get it done today -- like if the girls, when they lost I was so upset the rest of the day and that's, you know what I mean? And I know two of them on the team. But, no, he happened to hit kind of close to our group a couple times today and I went back and wrote Roll Tide Roll on his ball two times, so that's about the extent of the trash talk, if you will.

Q. Are you going to celebrate with a milkshake if things go according to plan tonight?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I'll be asleep when the tournament's over or as soon as the tournament is over I'll be pretty much going to sleep right after. So hopefully I'll be a little wired and excited, but I'm really excited to watch it. They're two unbelievable teams, there's going to be so many people out there, in all reality it is going to be a tough atmosphere for us to play in, but them as well. They have a lot of pressure on them playing in front of a lot of fans and hopefully it will be a good day, but the Tide comes out on top.

Q. Plus the top seed never wins, so...
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well it's going to happen at some point.

Q. You spent more weeks at No. 1 than any FedExCup champion since Tiger. But even Tiger didn't successfully defend. Is that something that's on your radar is going back-to-back for winning the FedExCup?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean I would, it's something I would like to do but there's, I'm worried about hitting my tee shot on number 10 at the Memorial first. There's a lot of golf shots and a lot of tournaments and a lot of things that are going to happen until Atlanta. So I, yeah, it's something that I, once I come down that back nine or the last couple holes come Sunday, I hope that I have a chance or I'm looking good to win, but like I said, there's a lot of golf until then.

Q. You went to Shinnecock last summer before they narrowed it a bit, I think you said it was playing really soft. You know it will be different when you go back in two weeks. What do you think that will mean in terms of how differently you'll have to play that course that week during that sort of casual trip last summer?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I kind of thought about it and I really don't know how much that round that I even played is going to do for me. I really only remember like vividly probably half the holes, maybe a little bit more, just the subtleties and the greens and stuff like that and the fairways were huge, but I mean we saw, they just put in where the fairways were going to be, so I know Rickie and I saw where they were going to be, but, yeah, I mean you would think it's going to be firmer and faster, the greens will be quicker, the rough will be long, so, I mean, it's a U.S. Open and you know how they, how they will set it up at times and weather dependent on how firm they will be able to get it. But it's going to be tough as expected.

Q. Do you think the setup of the course at Shinnecock will be extra tough after what you and you did at Erin Hills and what Brooks Koepka did?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I hope not. It's something that I just, I mean Erin Hills when it's that soft is not a hard golf course, it's, I mean if it's firm and fast and it gets windy, then it's difficult. But there was really not very much wind at all. The fairways are huge. The greens are huge. And it was soft. I mean it's just, we're too good for that to be playing difficult. So it, I mean the USGA didn't do anything to make it play like that, it's just how it was. They don't need to do anything to Shinnecock to make it hard. Shinnecock can be soft and it will still play hard. The fairways are going to be a lot more narrow, the greens are smaller, have a lot more slope, so I hope they don't try to set it up too hard because it could get out of hand, but it's known, it being Shinnecock, and really tough for a reason. So I don't think they need to do very much to it.

Q. Whatever experience you had with 36-hole qualifying, I was thinking U.S. Open, but it could be other events, have you ever had a really awful, taken yourself out of it the first 18 holes and withdrawn and if you did withdraw, why and if you didn't what do you think about someone who is 78 and gone and leaving? What are the two sides of that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I never have withdrawn. It's kind of something my parents have always kind of engraved in me, it's something I just have more pride than that and I also have always feel you never know. Maybe this is the day I shoot 59 or something like that. But that being the case, that didn't happen in those situations that I thought, but I mean a perfect example is my freshman year in college I have always played sectional U.S. Open qualifying in Columbus, I love the courses, the rotations they have, and I'm familiar with them. Nationals used to go up to Sunday, the final match was on Sunday. So we played in Texas in the finals at Riviera, on Sunday, and play in the afternoon and myself Bobby Wyatt, Cory Whitsett, Hunter Hamrick, four of our top-5 had sectional qualifying on Monday, 36 holes that next day. You know it's something to where you're hoping that you don't get there until Sunday night, but you would like to get a practice round in for a chance to get in the U.S. Open. And obviously we go to the final match and being across the country we were very fortunate to where one of the Whitsett's friends was able to hook us up with a flight and so Cory was in, Cory was in Houston, Bobby and Hunter were in Memphis and I was in Columbus. So dropped Cory off first, I think he got in at about 11ish or 12, dropped Hambone and Bobby off at about two or three. And I got in at 4:30 in the morning for my 8 o'clock tee time. 36 holes to get into the U.S. Open.


After we had lost on the last hole to a team that I don't like very much and lost to a person that I really didn't want to lose to and felt like I had lost us a national championship. So I pretty much have never been more excited for a round of golf is what I'm trying to say. And I shot about 74 or something like that the first round and I played and I've never been more out of it and tired and legs just completely gave out the entire last nine holes, but I just, I've always been a person that wants to finish.

Q. Can you see a side of someone who might shoot 78, really not going to get there, and maybe one less person on the course if they're trying to finish, is that a good excuse or not?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It is and I mean a lot of it too is guys, say if they're playing Memphis, you know, they don't have a good first day, I mean 36 holes is just going to make them more tired for the tournament -- or someone that has a mini-tour event, something like that, you know, it's, I could see the side of it, but it's just, I think everyone has a different way that they go about it, but just me personally, I just have never really been that person. I always want to finish.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in, Justin. Good luck this week.


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