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September 18, 2018

Justin Thomas

Atlanta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Talk about your expectations for this week and what you're looking forward to the most.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm excited to have an opportunity to do something that no one has ever done, which is pretty cool. I'm not sure if it was true or not, but I heard that no one had been in the top 5 after winning the FedExCup, so I take a lot of pride and a lot of honor in that.

But yeah, just need to -- I've been working as hard as I can these last -- after some much needed time off after BMW, been working to try to get my body and mind as fresh as possible to have a chance come Sunday.

Q. Speaking of getting your body ready, is the wrist okay, the right wrist?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I just kind of tweaked it on the back nine at BMW, and it's just kind of more precautionary than anything, just a little tightness, and it probably looks a little worse than it is. The two he three weeks coming up, just kind of more precautionary than anything.

Q. To what do you owe the fact that you're back in this position, a position no one else has put themselves in?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's been a really consistent year, and I take a lot of pride in that. I think I had a lot of top 25s this year. Yeah, I would have liked to have more top 10s or more top 5s or more wins, but as a whole, I feel like I've gotten better as a player this year. I don't have as many wins and I didn't win a major, but statistically I think I've improved in about every category, which is huge. That's a big goal of mine is to improve every year and get better every year, so if I can continue in this direction, I feel like I can do some pretty great things the rest of my career. But I attest a lot of it this year to just hard work and getting better in the areas that I needed to.

Q. Last year you sat up here and read us your goals and how many you had met; how close are you to achieving everything you wanted to do this season?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I haven't looked in a while. I really haven't. I'm sure if I had to guess, I'm probably around 50 to 60, 70 percent. I definitely haven't achieved near as many as I did the previous year. But we still have one week left to knock a big goal off. Yeah, I'd love to be sitting up here on Sunday and reading them to you again because that means I did something right, so we'll see.

Q. Looking back the last year, would you have liked to have started the tournament off at 10-under?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was perfectly content with how the format was last year. If it results in me winning the FedExCup, I don't really care how it is.

Q. To follow up, what do you think of the format change?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm a part of the PAC, so I've known this has been in talks for a while. But yeah, it's going to be different for sure. I liked the way that it is now, but like anything, you're just going to have to get used to it and you're going to have to -- we're just going to have to become comfortable with it because that's the way it is. Hopefully -- I'm sure it will -- it will produce a lot of great drama and a very deserving winner.

Q. Looking ahead to next week, you're one of the few Americans who's seen that golf course in a competitive environment. What do you think of the golf course?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's a great course. It is. I really, really enjoyed my time in France. It's a very strategic course. It's just very positioned. I hit seven drivers in four days. I think the conditions are going to be very different in terms of firmness, and we had some wind. I'm not sure if the direction is going to be the same or not. But that week it was just all about getting the ball in the fairway because the fairways are extremely narrow and the rough was very long and the fescue was very close to that, as well. It was more so about getting the ball in the fairway and then from there you could attack on some of the holes. From there I think the scores were pretty high. I think 7- or 8-under -- I think Alex won at 7- or 8-under. It's a great test of golf, and I think it's going to be a lot different than some Ryder Cups in the past where you could have pars and bogeys winning holes.

Q. Just as a Ryder Cup follow-up, for years, Europe's success was sort of explained away by the fact that they hang out together more, they travel together more. Does it seem like the tables have turned a little bit like where you guys might be a closer-knit unit together?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That is hard for me to answer. To be perfectly honest, looking back in the past, I would say that's trying to find something out of nothing, just the fact that they were playing better. I mean, ever since I've been out on TOUR, I've been very, very close with a lot of the guys, especially everyone on the team now, I'm very close with. And it's not just because we're on a team now; I've been good friends with them beforehand.

I mean, yeah, the Europeans, they're close, as well. It's just the fact of the matter that this is our life, and these are the people that we spend 60, 70 percent of the year with, which is bizarre, but it's true. You spend a lot of time playing with the same guys and practicing with the same guys, whether it's on TOUR or in Jupiter for me, there's a lot of guys that I practice with out at Bear's Club, and it's just the fact of the matter that we spend a lot of time around each other. You definitely have your groups that you travel and have fun with, regardless of the nationality.

Q. You mentioned that it irked you, bothered you a little bit that you actually didn't win this tournament last year, even though you won the FedExCup. How true was that, and looking back on it, is there a hole or a shot you look back on and think, oh, God, if I'd only done that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, my tee shot on 18, for sure. I thought I hit the fairway there. I'm probably not going to make worse than birdie. Xander being one back as opposed to tied for the lead is a lot different. Yeah, it still bothers me. 18 is not a very hard par-5, and I hit such a great putt on 18 that I still don't know how it didn't go in. The par-5s are something that I'm able to use my strength and my advantage with my length, and to not birdie a par-5 to close a tournament when I had a chance to win was and still is upsetting.

But yeah, at the end of the day, winning the FedExCup is a huge deal and a life-changer, but to have six wins in a season would have been pretty sweet. Hopefully we'll get it in the future.

Q. I guess I'd be remiss not to ask since we're in the capital of college football here, your thoughts about the top two teams in the poll and how you think that might shake out, and do you think you might hear from some Bulldog fans this week?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm sure I'll hear from plenty of Bulldog fans. I respect Kirby so much. I knew him a little bit at school, and he's a big golf fan so he's really close with Kis and we'll kind of stay in touch through him. But I was very, very upset when we lost Kirby because I knew how good he was and what kind of impact he had on the team.

But this is a pretty unbelievable team Alabama has. I mean, I can't wait. I'm going to try to go to a game or two here in the fall after I finish up my part of the season for the year, and I can't wait. I've never seen this much firepower for an Alabama offense, and our defense looks good for how young it is, especially in the secondary. Yeah, I mean, that was a butt-whooping we just put on Ole Miss there in their backyard, so that was pretty nice.

Q. If you showed up on Thursday next year 10 back, does that change what you do, that there's only one trophy to play for and you've got 10 shots to make up for?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You have to. Yeah, I think that's something that's very, very weird and going to be hard to get used to is you're going to be starting farther back. And I think that was something -- we talked about it, it is different, and it's so -- it's never going to be perfect. No system in any sport is ever going to be perfect, and the TOUR has done such a great job of talking to us and trying to get it as good as possible. But it's just hard to understand the fact that you could be starting behind somebody else and still somehow win a golf tournament or an official win.

You know, for how much pride we take in our wins, I think that that's something that's going to be a little different. But it's definitely going to be weird. I mean, you could be just shot out of the tournament really because if you start nine or ten back and you go shoot a couple over the first day, your week is realistically done. That part is a little bit of a bummer, but like I said earlier, we're just going to kind of see how it unfolds, and hopefully it turns out well.

Q. Is there an actual diagnosis on the wrist, and did it affect last week or what you're going to do this week at all?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, it literally came up on like my 13th hole on Monday, the last round, so it just was something -- I'd never had an injury before, I've never had it happen. It just kind of popped up, and yeah, I took last week off, I didn't hit a ball. I chipped and putted a lot, so my short game feels pretty good. But in all honesty, this time of year, it's nice to take time off. You're better off being mentally fresh than you are, I would say, having my game physically fresh.

If I was -- if I practiced a lot last week and I was grinding not only this week but most importantly next week, as well, I could have been kind of run into the ground. Getting that time off and getting some rest and just trying to get this thing healed up and feel good as soon as possible coming into Thursday was important.

Q. Jay mentioned how college football is kind of king in this part of the country in September, one of the reasons why you guys are moving this event back to August starting next year. Just your thoughts on that, where you guys fit in that sports landscape, and is it better for interest in this event to play it in August where there's less competition from, say, football?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'd say that could definitely help. I mean, we have -- Atlanta has a lot of great sporting teams, has a lot of great sporting events, so like you said and like Jay said, I know my priority would be on watching football over golf, and I play the sport. I love football, and you only have such a short little window of football season whereas golf is the whole year. And I think that's such a huge advantage for us and a great change that we're going to be done before football and that anything to have more viewers to grow the game for the better and to get it -- anything as positive as possible is going to be great.

In terms of where golf fits, every person is different. It really is just all opinionated. I mean, I love watching golf, I love watching football, but I guess that's why you have multiple TV's and hopefully you can watch them both.

Q. The 14th hole here at East Lake is one of the tougher holes, the 21st toughest hole. How are you going to prepare for that this week, and how does that affect your game?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, just like the rest of this course, you just need to hit the fairway. If you hit the fairway, it definitely takes a lot of stress off the hole. It's a pretty big green to where you're having anywhere from an 8- to a 6-iron in. I feel confident that most of the field can hit the green from there. But it's a hard hole to make a birdie on. It's not necessarily too difficult to make par. You can kind of ease one down there and get it around the green and get it up-and-down. But it's a tough hole, especially on that back nine, if you're trying to make a run there with 14 and 15, trying to make birdies on those two holes are tough. I'm not going to do any particular preparation for that shot for that hole, just going to try to hit the fairway and go from there.

Q. One of the beauties of Playoffs in other sports is no matter how you get to the final, whether you were undefeated or a wild card, you have an equal opportunity. The field is level. So with it not being that way starting next year here, how did you and the other members of the PAC sort of wrap your heads around that? It kind of goes against the grain of what makes sports special.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I really don't know what to say. I agree with you; I'll just say that.

Q. I was wondering if you could quickly touch on the history of East Lake and where it sits in American golf history. Do you get a sense of that when you walk around in your practice rounds, and do you get excited coming here?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I wish I knew more about the history. I mean, unfortunately just being 25 years old, I don't know as much as I probably should. My dad loves golf history. From times that I've taken him to Augusta, he's walked through the clubhouse and looked at all the old newspaper articles or the different pictures or whatever it may be or other old places, and he's done it here as well.

Yeah, I mean, any time you can come to a course that has such rich history, it -- but it's also such a good golf course because -- I mean, I'm definitely not going to name any courses, but there's plenty of places that the courses have the reputation they have because of the history, and this place is such a good golf course and has the history, and that's so hard and so rare to get. Yeah, I mean, the amount of great things that have happened at this golf tournament, at this golf course, whether it's tournament or not, it's something that really can't be recreated. Hopefully in the coming years a lot of us or hopefully myself included will continue to add that history and be in those -- in the walls and be in the pictures some day.

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