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January 31, 2019

Justin Thomas

Scottsdale, Arizona

Q. You came into the tournament leading the TOUR in strokes gained approach to green. But I was impressed with the putting. I saw a really confident stroke out there.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I haven't been exactly the most comfortable over it, but I feel like I'm just trying to go back to fundamentals, just try to get my line and see it and just hit it with the right speed. I think speed is the biggest thing for me. If I can get my speed correct then I feel like I can get a lot of putts. Fortunately I was hitting it so well I gave myself a lot of chances and they were pretty close to the hole.

Q. Yeah, I thought that we were going to see a 29, maybe even 28. I'm puzzled how that putt on 7 stayed short of the hole because you were down hill, down grain.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I know. I went to the other side of the hole and I saw it very, very downhill and it was very shiny from where I was and, yeah, I tried to kind of hit that one really soft with speed and it was right in the jaws, I just left it short.

Q. Was that 3-wood you hit off of 9 tee and just didn't get it in the fairway and hard to hold that green if you're not in the fairway?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's just kind of -- the fairway gets a lot more narrow for me and I feel like if I hit that bullet stinger 3-wood I would be down there 150 yards, have a 9-iron to a very easy pin. And I really just pop-up hooked it. I put it a little too high in the air. But, yeah, I hit a good shot, just out of the rough, like you said, couldn't really control it from over 200 yards. And I almost chipped it in there, so it was nice to see.

Q. Let me give you two numbers. 4-4 for chipping and 83 feet in putts?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's good. The thing about the putting is I made a couple of those mid-range putts, but all my birdies were very close. I think the longest putt I made for birdie was maybe 15 feet, something like that. It was a lot of inside 10 feet. My wedge play was great today. But that was all set up by the driving. Overall it was just a good day.

Q. Comments on your day, please.
JUSTIN THOMAS: It was a good day today. I was in control of everything tee to green. I didn't necessarily get off to the greatest start score-wise, but I felt like I was playing well and just kind had a couple holes there in the beginning, those front pins were tucked pins, were very, very hard to get to, greens being, I mean not frozen, but harder and a little bit wet, they kind of had that skid. So it was very, very hard to get the balls close to the pin early in the round. But just continued to try to stay patient and was driving it well to where I had wedges and I made some very low stress birdies out there.

Q. Can you talk about what you learned from the third round last year and I guess the first round also just being able to put rounds together.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I just hit the wrong club -- I played great third round last year, I just had two bad holes. I hit the wrong club off the tee on 15, for the situation we were in. It's not a very comfortable tee shot for me, I like to cut it off the tee. So we talked about maybe hitting 3-wood. But I was kind of feeling it and I wanted to hit, have a 7-iron in there. So I hit a driver and it left me with an 8. And it was a disaster there on 16. But that's the thing about this course, I haven't played it that great, even though I like it tee to green, I feel like it suits my game, but I just have kind of have had a round here or there and a couple holes. And you just have to stay patient because you can get on a pretty good roll out here.

Q. You mentioned that you were kind of surprised that you haven't won at all so far this year. How do you keep that from becoming pressure or like a distraction for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I don't remember saying I was surprised I haven't won. I only played five events or something like that. I played well -- I was very tired in the fall, so I mean that's no excuse, but I don't think I ever had any chance to win in Korea, I was pretty out of it. And I played well at Malaysia to have a top-5. I played well in Kapalua and Sony, it's just the scores are so low if you don't have one hot day you don't have a chance to win. So I understand you're not going to win every tournament. Guys like Bryson, on the run he's on, stuff like that happens, but I just have to stay patient and wait for it to happen.

Q. Any frustrations with the last two holes?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not really. I just wish I would have hit a good tee shot on 9 because I felt that was a very, very accessible pin. I hit a perfect drive on 8 and hit a good second shot into that pin, 7-iron, 20 feet pin high, that was a good shot and just kind of misread the putt. But, no, it's easy to -- frustration isn't the right word. I would have liked to get one or two, but I mean I'm pretty content with 30 on my back nine.

Q. Starting on 18 you birdied six out of seven holes after that. Talk about what kind of goes into that, how you feel when you're doing that.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, on 18, 1, 2 and 5 I probably had within five yards of yardages. They were kind of between that 126 to like 131, all of them. And I mean just a perfect take a little bit off a gap wedge. It was getting a little hotter and where we were trying to land it they were all kind of 120 to 123 yard shots. And they were right pins, which was good for me, I kind of cut everything. So it just was a very comfortable number. And that's just one of those things when you're playing well the ball seems to get there. When you're not playing well you seem to be between clubs a lot and I was fortunate to get those holes.

Q. What's it like to play with Cameron Champ?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, he's a good player, he's great -- I don't feel right calling someone a kid -- but he's a great kid. He's quiet, he kind of goes about his business. He's someone I think, once he kind of tidies everything up -- and he's still so young. I remember when I was at his age, you learn a lot or I was able to learn a lot and I'm a lot more mature and a lot more well rounded player now than I was then. He's off to obviously a great start in his career.

Q. To have the success you had early today what's it like moving forward?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's nice to finally get off to a good start at this event but there's a lot of golf left and I just need to continue to do what I'm doing and stay positive and patient and just see if we can keep doing it.

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