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June 27, 2018

Justin Thomas

Paris, France

THE MODERATOR: Pleasure to welcome you, Justin, to your first French Open. Played the course yesterday

JUSTIN THOMAS: I did. Yeah, and I just played nine holes this morning.

Q. So your give us, I suppose, your assessment on the Golf National.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's a great golf course. You know, I'd heard some things from guys in the past who have played it, and I talked to Rory a little bit about it. I played with him the first two days last week at the Travelers, so we were talking some about it. So it's lived up to the hype that everybody said. It's a tremendous golf course. It's a great test of golf. It's all right in front of you. It's not like there's any hidden tricks or anything like that. It's just a difficult golf course that you just really have to kind of plot your way around and execute the golf shots.

Q. There's probably a couple of reasons why you're here, Justin. I'm sure everyone knows that, but give us your thoughts on the week ahead and playing your first French Open. You must be looking forward.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah. It's different, but it's a great experience for me. It obviously has some additional intentions to it, you know, with the Ryder Cup this fall, but it just worked out in the schedule to where I really wanted to come here, and it worked out well to do so. I wanted to play against a great field, and which it looks like we're going to. It's a tremendous field this week, and especially playing in one of the Rolex Series events. It's a big deal in the European Tour, and again, I'm very happy and lucky that you all are letting me come over here and crash the party a little bit this week. But yeah, it should be a fun week.

Q. You're very welcome, sir. Questions for Justin. Did you figure out a strategy on the golf course, where you can be aggressive?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Just hit the fairways the first round. It's a very big premium out here. I'm sure the course can change a lot in terms of the wind direction, you know, the last two days it's been a very kind of easterly wind, northeast a little bit, which I'm pretty sure is not the predominant wind out here early. I don't know with the time of year, but I was told it often comes the other direction. It's a lot of 3-woods, a lot of five woods off tees, just trying to find the fairway. And it's not rock hard out there, but it's firm enough to where you kind of get some balls chasing. It will roll a little bit. I could see this golf course if it's a lot softer, it could play very long, so you have to hit some drivers and a lot of 3-woods, whereas now, like I said, just kind of getting the ball in the fairway. And then once you're there, you're able to attack on some holes, but that being said, you just don't know what you're going to get on some of those holes.

Q. Is it a very different type of ^ course compared to what you play on the PGA TOUR? Or do you have some courses in the U.S. that look like this one?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, my caddy, Jimmy and I, we were talking about that yesterday. We were trying to think of a golf course that this reminds us of in the States. And we had a hard time with it because it's very unique. It looks like a, you know, it has that kind of like a Shinnecock type look because of the fescue kind of lining the fairways, but with the water, you know, you don't have all that in a course like that, so that kind of throws that out. And then you have all the trees, especially around some of the greens and stuff like that. There's so many different variables that this golf course has that make it so unique to a lot -- and all the golf courses I've ever played, and that being said it's very difficult to compare it to a course that we've played in the States. But you know, again, if it was a course in the States, it would be just as difficult. With the climate that there is here right now, the course is in very good condition. And you know, it's going to be a good test.

Q. Justin, that first tee is looking a little different than it will in September, but is it quite a narrow target from the tee box, and what club will you use there?
JUSTIN THOMAS: If the fairway got very firm, it would be very, very small. I mean right now it's just a 4-iron. It's a relatively wide fairway. So it's not like you have to push it up or anything like that. You can kind of get the ball on the ground, and it's been downwind the last couple of days. It's just been a 4-iron and a wedge. But if it got pumping downwind and it got pretty firm out there, I could see 5-irons being in play, but then again, you get that hole a little into the wind or say down off the right or off the right, then that tee shot becomes a lot more difficult. So kind of what I was saying earlier where this golf course can completely change in terms of the direction of the wind.

Q. Is the water long there a factor at all?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Hopefully not, because you hit the wrong club if it's in play. So I would say, again, if it got very, very firm or you kind of got the wind down off the right, I think that water long could come into play, but with the fact of it just being a wedge or 9-iron or 8-iron from a fairway, you just pretty much -- or I would think all of us would stay short of that.

Q. Justin, when did you decide to come over here? Are you surprised that more Americans are not coming over this week?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not really. It's a schedule thing. You know, and everybody has their schedule. You know, there's plenty of guys that are playing this week. In terms of getting preparation for the Ryder Cup, you know, I know a handful of guys that are coming over before the British, so it's not like they're not going to see the course beforehand. But for myself it just was -- I think when we were kind of mapping out my schedule throughout the year leading up on the British, or leading up to the Open, I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And then playing the Travelers last week, an event that I love, I was like, well, do I want to take three weeks off, do I want to go play Quicken Loans, what do I want to do. And I was looking at it, and I'm like, well, the French Open is that week. It's at a course where the Ryder Cup is going to be. It's a great field. It's, you know, it's an opportunity for good world ranking points. I mean there were so many positives to it. It was an opportunity to come to Paris, come to France and visit Versailles, a place I've never been to. So I really saw no down side to it, and for me I didn't want to take three weeks off before a major. Definitely a little tired after the last two weeks between Shinnecock and then Travelers last week, but you know, once we get going out there, the adrenaline and the juices will start going and getting me through, but that was kind of my thought process for it.

Q. And given the way this course plays, the links feel it's got to it, this is also I guess good prep for the Carnoustie.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, absolutely. And in terms of the trouble on both sides, it's very similar. You have to have total control of your ball. You have to hit it very straight. You have to be accurate, have to work it against, you know, crosswinds to hold fairways and stuff like that. So yeah, in that sense it is also very good prep for the Open.

Q. Justin, will you join that (indisernible) ^ in a couple weeks' time or will you feel that you've done the homework now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I won't. I felt coming here and getting hopefully four competitive rounds and some practice rounds in, I thought that was plenty for me, but also for me, I mean the Open is a major which is what I've prepped my schedule around all year, and for me I want to be rested for that. Playing these three weeks, I'm going to need to get a lot of rest these next two -- I'll take a week probably completely off of the game and just try to get my body feeling good again. I've been on a lot of planes and traveling a lot. So trying to get my body clock back. I feel -- although it would be very productive in terms of the Ryder Cup and also potentially getting ready for the Open, you know, I need to get my body and my game, my mind, I need to get everything right for the Open championship, which is kind of what I'm building my schedule around, which is the majors.

Q. Just on the same thing, we understand that Tiger is not going to be able to make the mission^ because he's doing a photo shoot in London with Rory and Nike. Given the passion he's shown for the Ryder Cups and the Presidents cup, is that a little bit of a surprise to you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, I didn't know about it. So I'm sure if he could, he would be here. It's not something that had been planned -- this trip hadn't exactly been planned for a long time like I'm sure that photo shoot has. So I'm sure he didn't have a whole lot of say in it, unfortunately, at that point.

THE MODERATOR: We're going to take a couple of Facebook Live questions.

Q. Jeff is asking how is your French and have you picked up any phrases?
JUSTIN THOMAS: My French is pretty terrible. It's actually nonexistent. Yeah, I would love to come here at some point in my career and be able to speak a little bit with some people here, but as of for you I'm just hoping everybody speaks English.

Q. And we had another. Ahead of the Ryder Cup, whose game on Team USA do you think suits the course?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, that's the thing about our team, but both teams really. When you're looking at the Ryder Cup, you're looking at the best players in the world. And that means that they're really, really good players. So it's not necessarily like there's any weak or very many weak parts of their game. And especially with our team and especially with the European team as well. So it's really just going to be a matter of just who's kind of playing the best and who's making the putts, you know, which is the case most of the time. But it's all right in front of you. It's not like there's any tricks, and there's a lot of players on our team that can drive the golf ball better than anybody in the world. But that being said, there's just as many on the European team that can do the exact same thing.

Q. Do you have any plans to share your research with the other guys on the team or is that something Jimmy will do? Do you sit down with the team and say, look, this is where you're going to hit it, this is where you're going to miss it, that sort of thing?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm sure they'll ask me some questions, but at the end of the day, I think for the most part it's just it's a place like this, it's not like an Augusta or it's not like -- I can't really think of any other places other than that to where it's like every single round you play you learn something. And I'm sure, you know, you could learn little things here and there, but little things like 2 at Augusta where you send it right in the people for those left pins or something like that if you can't get on the green. There's no real instances of like that out here because there's usually fescue or something like that getting in the way. So like I said, it all being right in front of you, it's not like there's that many tricks or crazy knowledge that I may get this week. There could be some stuff of playing in some wind conditions this week that maybe we don't have for practice rounds that week where I can help the team, but they're all really good and they all do this all the time like myself and like everybody else in the world. So any way I can help, I'll be glad and happy to, but you know, the guys are good. They don't need me to hopefully play well.

Q. A lot's been made about the last four holes here and how that will set up for the Ryder Cup. Can you talk a little bit having played them how you sort of envision the atmosphere being coming down the stretch and also if you could talk about the 18th hole and the feeling that will be going through players' match if the Ryder Cup or a match is on the line on that hole?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah. I can't imagine a tournament or a match being on the line on that 18th hole. That's a very daunting, difficult hole. But luckily for you, the person that you're playing against is probably feeling the exact same way. So it's a great finishing hole. It's a place where in a stroke play situation if you have a one or two-shot lead going down that hole, you know, it's not safe by any means. So you always want to be able to earn it coming down the stretch. So 18 definitely brings all that out. But the last four holes are great. Has some risk-reward in terms of if you want to push it up some fairways and hit some shorter clubs or lay back to try to get the fairway, have some longer clubs into some difficult greens. And the wind being a factor on holes like 15 and the back green or 16, the elevated tee, you really have to hit a solid flighted shot to hit into that cross wind or whatever it may be going into that green. So I'm sure it's going to provide a lot of drama like Ryder Cups do, but it definitely is a great stretch of holes, especially to close.

Q. Did you speak with Jim Furyk before you made the decision to come to the French Open or did he have any influence in your decision to come here?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It definitely helped a little bit, but I more told Jim that I was going to come play here, and I think he was pleasantly surprised, but it wasn't like we were up at night having late discussions trying to figure out if I was going to come play here. He understands and everybody understands, you know, that there may be things that he or some people want us to do, but at the end of the day we need to do what we need to do to get our games, our bodies, everything right for our season, because it's -- obviously the Ryder Cup is extremely important, but there's a lot of tournaments that we have up until that Ryder Cup. So everyone that's playing this week in the States is worried about the Quicken Loans, and everyone that's playing here is worried about the French Open. And then in a couple of weeks we're all worried about the Open Championship. So it's, again, what I felt was good scheduling on my part, and it worked out well timing wise, and when I told Jim, he was happy.

Q. Justin, we've heard everybody say very strong field here this week. Could you see that perhaps if you could put a mark and win here might be a little boost to your USA Ryder Cup colleagues?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean it would mean more to me winning a European tour event, because it's something I've never done. I guess you could count the PGA, but I personally don't. Coming over to Europe and winning a European Tour event would mean more to me, just because the course is probably -- and the weather, everything is going to be so different, and the European team, I'm playing against a couple of guys on the team and it's a stroke play versus match play, so the dynamic is just totally different. But it would help probably deep inside with me, but again, it's so far away and going to be playing so different that, you know -- it would be a tremendous honor just to win the tournament alone.

Q. Do you see any difference in the atmosphere between the players themselves on the European Tour event or when it is on the PGA TOUR and if there is a difference, are you comfortable with it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: The playoffs?

Q. No. The players.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, it's great coming here and seeing a lot of familiar faces. Like I played nine holes with Ricardo Gouveia, I think is how you pronounce his name. We've played against each other in college and in amateur golf. So it's good to catch up with people like him. I see Brooks' brother, Chase yesterday. I had lunch with him. So there's many guys and players here that I've played against and know well, but I just don't get to see as often. So it's fun being over here. It's the same as the TOUR. It's a brotherhood. I'm sure there's groups of guys that all have dinner together, their wives are close, their families are close, whatever it may be, but I just don't get to experience it with them week in and week out like I do with my buddies back home. But like I said, I'm very gracious and feel welcome so far. So it's been fun.

Q. Is it your first time in France? And what have you been doing since you arrived here aside from playing golf?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I played in Evian when I was 14 in the Evian Junior Masters. So that was my first time in France, which is really cool. It's a beautiful, beautiful part of the country for sure. But got into -- landed in Paris at about 2-ish on Monday, and stayed there on Monday, just because I didn't want anything to do with golf. So it's not like I was going to come out here and practice. So I figured stay in Paris that afternoon and that night. And my agent and I, we just kind of toured around the city a little bit. He'd been there a handful of times, so he knew some places to go. We stayed in a cool hotel. We went to some cool restaurants. And I mean just the architecture and everything is just so beautiful. It's so different from the States. So it was cool for me to see it in person versus pictures you see on line. And of course, like every tourist you have to go see the Eiffel Tower and take pictures of that. Like I said, I've enjoyed my time here so far. It's been very enjoyable.

THE MODERATOR: I think that's a perfect way to end. Justin, thank you for your time. Good luck this week.

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