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May 29, 2019

Justin Thomas

Dublin, Ohio

JOHN BUSH: We'd like to welcome Justin Thomas into the interview room. He is making his 6th career start at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide. Justin, first of all, welcome back to the Tour. If we can get an update on your health.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm great. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't. That's the reason I took the time off when I did. It's not like I could be more or less excited for any other event. I missed three events that I felt were courses that fit me very well, and I felt like I could have had a great chance to play well and win.

So it was hard to miss those as any of them, but it's great to come back to a place that's as close to home as I could possibly get and a place that I've played a lot at and I enjoy.

Q. How crazy was it, your time away, and how did you pass the time?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Crazy, I wouldn't describe it. Bored, I would, for sure. I was very, very bored. That's what I was telling people, I learned very quickly there's not a lot to do in South Florida when you can't golf or fish. I watched a lot of TV and I traveled some, just to try to pass the time.

I was able to do a lot of lower body and core exercises, so I was trying to maintain the best possible shape that I could. In the last three or four weeks I've gotten after it pretty hard to make sure that I was ready for when I did come back out.

I watched some golf. I watched Quail Hollow and the PGA, especially, two places that I love. And tournaments I've had a lot of interest in. So I watch golf when I don't play. So when I had six weeks off or whatever it was I definitely watched my fair share of it.

Q. To follow on that, what was it like to watch the PGA, the major that you've won? Did you watch every shot Sunday? Just what was that like?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I was actually in New York. I had -- just coincidentally we scheduled a long time ago, I had a Media Day for Polo, some stuff I was doing Monday in the city. Obviously I wasn't playing in the PGA. So when I wasn't, I ended up going up for the weekend. I watched the entire day Sunday. I watched most of Saturday, as well.

I went from in the beginning of the week really upset that I wasn't playing to pretty pleased that I wasn't playing by how hard it looked from everybody. Obviously I felt like if I could have prepared myself properly and kind of gone about my business as I usually do, I feel like I could have played well.

But it's something that is not worth talking about, because we won't know. More so a bummer that I didn't play Bethpage, because I enjoyed it. Anytime you miss a major, it's a bummer. It was a long-term thing, and I needed to do what was best.

Q. How much was the injury bothering you during the Masters? And specifically on the hole-in-one on Sunday. Any pain at that point?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, it didn't bother me at all on Sunday. It was weird. I don't know if I just slept weird -- I don't know, but it obviously had been aggravated. I think the root of the problem was at the Honda when I hit it that tree and the club didn't break, that created a lot of tightness in my arm. And because of that every shot I hit the stress wasn't able to go through my arm. It was only able to go to one place in my wrist, and that's where the injury was.

Obviously if I had it back, I would have chipped it out and made my bogey like I do anyway. Everything happens for a reason, and there was some reason for that happening, and maybe it was a learning experience for me. No, it was very stiff and it hurt. I had no pain at all during Augusta. I would just say maybe the tournament or two off the Honda was the only time I really felt it. No, it was good because now I'm paying a lot more attention to that and making sure that never happens again.

Q. Obviously it's not just your comeback, there's a good friend of yours who's making a comeback this week, Bud Cauley. A year ago you were one of the first people to see him after he got hurt. I wondered if you could go back and reflect a little bit on how scary that was and then to see him out here playing well again and getting back to his old self.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, that was probably one of the hardest nights I've ever had in my life. I slept -- I think it was like two hours or an hour and a half or something that night before my round. And I just -- I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if I should go to the hospital or not. And I felt like it was somewhat my fault somehow and it was like what if something happens he can't play golf again. And there were a lot of things that run through your head when something like that happens and it's one of your best and closest friends.

No, I think going into the hospital and seeing him Saturday after I played just -- it helped me a lot because I just was able to see him and see that he was okay. He was obviously very injured and was going to have to go through a surgery. I could communicate with him. He was moving. He saw me. I saw him. But, yeah, that was -- we'll talk about it every once in a while. It's not something you bring up in conversation.

But, yeah, I mean, we're all very happy to see him back. There's not many places you could put Bud Cauley and I in the world and we wouldn't have fun together. He's one of my boys. I'm excited for the time that he does win and just hope I'm there when he does.

Q. You were open a couple of months about the dialogue or lack thereof with the USGA. With Pebble around the corner, how has that situation changed between you and the USGA or the USGA and players in general?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It hasn't changed much recently. We had a conversation when it all came out because it was needed. I'm very cordial with a lot of the USGA guys, it's not like it's a very hostile relationship or anything like that. It's fine. It's the U.S. Open, it's Pebble Beach. It's a major. I'm going to be just as excited to play that as I am any other event and any other major. And it would mean a lot to have my name on that trophy.

But, no, that stuff -- at least in my opinion -- is very much in the past. And I think it was something -- although it may not have seemed like it at the time, was something that potentially was better for the both of us. As long as we can continue to make the game better, then I feel like we accomplished something. So hopefully we did.

Q. Just on that realm. It's not often that players are so vocal publicly about anything, quite honestly. Outside of this, do you feel that golfers should be more publicly vocal or other issues, because there's obviously a lot going on in this country outside of golf rules?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You know, it's tough because I feel like you just can't win, you know? You say what's on your mind, and then you're said you're a spoiled brat for complaining about something. You don't say what's on your mind, and you're told you're too quiet. You show your emotion, you get too mad. What am I supposed to do kind of thing? You all know that I've always said what I felt. And I think the most important thing is I never am or at least I hope to never be disrespectful. I don't want to talk -- I'm never going to specifically -- I might disagree with something you say, but I'm not going to -- that's between you two, that's not between us -- I may disagree with something that you say and I could tell you that, but I'm not going to talk bad about you away from you or I'm not going to talk down about you. I may just disagree with something you say, if that makes sense.

So I think it's good -- for me, why I do it is I feel -- which is cool, because I feel I'm in a position where I can change stuff. I mean, being on the PAC has been great. I love being able to voice my opinion in those PAC meetings and guys liking it or disliking it or whatever, but there's no reason for me to sit in there and complain about stuff if I'm going to hold all my ideas in my head and not say anything.

I think there's a very fine line on guys saying stuff because you don't want to be disrespectful. That's not the point of it. But you also do need to -- there's nothing wrong with saying what's on your mind. But it's hard nowadays, as you know. You just feel like you can't win. But I guess everybody is different. Everyone has their way of going about it.

Q. We've seen a couple of guys not play this week that normally play. There's the new calendar, and this falls between the PGA and The Open. Why do you come back year after year? Why do you put this on your calendar?
JUSTIN THOMAS: This is as close as I get to home. That's not the reason I play. I play because I love the golf course and I really do feel like I'm going to win this event at some point in my career. I really do like it. I've played it well. I've missed two cuts here, but I've played it well in other years past.

I don't know, I enjoy it. It's the part of the country I'm familiar with. I grew up three hours from here. So I've got some friends coming, some families coming. Close to my grandparents, and cruising around in their scooters, it's always enjoyable. Yeah, it's a good time.

Q. Phil says the only thing at this point that could alter his legacy is to win at Pebble and complete the career Grand Slam. In your opinion, how much does it change his place in history doing that?

Q. Yeah.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, I think you just -- it's very self-explanatory. If he wins, he wins the Grand Slam. But, no, Phil's legacy is Phil's legacy. I think everything he's done and everything he's accomplished is top -- I don't know, top couple of all time, regardless of if he wins the U.S. Open. I think for him, I mean, obviously there's only a handful of guys, I don't know the exact number, to win the career five, to win the career Grand Slam. That's pretty unbelievable to enjoy that.

But I think it would be more satisfactory to him to just know -- because you guys know Phil. He likes Phil (laughter). So to be able to say "I won the career Grand Slam," that's just -- unfortunately for us, that's just another thing he has up on us. We're just going to hear about it some more when we're talking smack to each other.

Obviously I hope to play well and hope to win. But it would be cool to see him get it done because he's been so close so many times.

Q. How many U.S. Opens have you played, four?

Q. And one competitive round at Pebble Beach, if I'm not mistaken?

Q. Two?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I played like the Callaway, used to be the Callaway Pebble Beach.

Q. Did you play there as a kid?

Q. What are you expecting out of this U.S. Open and what should it be?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, all I know is those greens are going to be hard when they're firm. I've only played them pretty soft. The tournament I played in November they were pretty good. They could get a little bit of bounce in them. AT&T is so soft all the time, so that's way different. I'm looking at fairways like 6 and 9 and 10, 16 -- 16, 15, 18, those fairways that usually you don't think about missing have now become very difficult. Having to hit a draw off of 6, off of the ocean to hold the fairway now is really hard, versus at AT&T you just aim it at the bunkers and hit a driver as high, as hard as you can, and it's going to land in the fairway and plug.

That's going to change. Obviously I don't know what the weather has been, so I don't know what the course is going to play like. I feel it's very similar to -- I've never played Merion, but just from watching it, it's not overly long. I could be completely off on this, so sorry if I am. But it's just a very difficult golf course. Not much needs to be done, you have to go out and position it off the tee and position it into the green and hopefully hit as many greens as you can.

Q. Jack said for years when he got to the U.S. Open and listened to one player after another complain about how hard it was, that was one guy he could rule out for the week. Given the recent history of U.S. Opens, is there a likelihood of more and more guys getting ruled out?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, judging by Brooks' theory, he only has a couple of people to beat, I guess (laughter), which is working pretty good for him, so maybe I need to start going by that.

No, I definitely know what he means, and I've thought that many times. Yeah, I enjoy that because it's like poa annua greens sometimes, you just -- I mean, I enjoy it because everyone thinks it's difficult, but it's hard for everybody. It's not like it's just hard to me to make putts on it.

Yeah, you have to be as mentally sharp as you can at a U.S. Open because the golf course is difficult enough you don't need to do anything else to add difficulty to it. Hopefully everybody is complaining and I'm in a happy-go-lucky mood all week.

Q. There's differing opinions on horses for courses. Where are you on that and specifically to this event, this course, does it fit a certain style?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't think it fits a certain style. I mean, I think you could look at -- it just depends on the condition. When it's soft like this, it's going to favor a long hitter. But I was talking about it with a buddy earlier, Jon Curran almost won this tournament a couple of years ago, and Jon doesn't hit it very far. And I think Will McGirt beat him, and Will doesn't hit it that far, but that was probably one of the firmer years.

In terms of places that I fit, I would like to think I fit a lot of golf courses. I think one of the things I'm most proud about is Kapalua and Sony in back-to-back weeks, it doesn't get much more opposite and different in those two events, and playing back-to-back weeks and playing really well. Obviously I was playing extremely well.

But it killed me not to be able to go play Colonial last week. I've always wanted to play there. It's never fit if my schedule, and it finally fit this year, and this thing came up. I was close, I could have played, but if I just gave it another five days, it was going to fully heal and I never have to worry about it. I needed to do that.

But I love -- like Harbour Town, I love that golf course, to where you have to just short, little quirky and work it around. I would like to think that a lot of golf courses fit my game if I'm playing well, but this one is pretty nice.

JOHN BUSH: Welcome back and best of luck this week.

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