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December 10, 2019

Justin Thomas

Melbourne, Australia

Q. Some quick comments about this week and how excited you are to be here.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's cool.

Q. And the golf course. Talk about that.
JUSTIN THOMAS: The course is so unique. I've heard a lot about it, but I think it's one of those things that people did a good job explaining it, but also didn't. It, you can't explain it. There's so many blind shots. It's just, the golf course plays so different over the course of a couple days. If the wind changes and somebody were at a good point today, if it's at the end of those 36-hole days, or I guess only on Saturday is a 36-hole day, if it gets windy this course could get really, really firm and crispy. So it's going to be cool. I truly don't know to expect in terms of what's, you know, if pars are going to be winning holes, birdies, or whatever it might be. But I know you have to use your creativity and imagination.

Q. If you could talk about your team. How is the chemistry and how is it having a playing captain?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's great. I think that the chemistry is something that we never struggled with and we all get along very well. And I mean, even it goes into the wives and girlfriends and families, we all get along with each other, which is great. We all know each other, we play a lot of golf together. And I think it's, we sometimes, if it's possible, have too many options of guys that can play together, which is a good thing. Because if, say, someone's not playing well or someone doesn't want to go out or need to send someone out with this person, I feel like we have a lot of opportunities and options.

Q. There's probably a good chance you might play with the captain, playing captain. Could you just talk about that possibility? I think we kind of feel like that might happen.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it would be cool, but at the end of the day it's, I'm out there to win a point. It doesn't matter if I'm with him or if I'm with P-Reed or Bryson or Rick or whoever it is, it's, I'm out there to try and win a point. And I don't know, I mean, it's something that it definitely would be, if you're looking back at it when I was a kid it's something that would be really, really cool. But I think, at least what I've told him personally is that first and foremost this week, he's our captain and he needs to make sure that he has our team ready. And if he wants to pair me with him, like all of us, I'm sure he wants to play a lot. If he wants to play every match and, you know, we all want to. I mean, he's the best player of all time. But just need to make sure that he's communicating with us, which he is, and sending the guys out when he needs to. And then when he's ready to go or when he sends himself out, when the team sends him out, he'll be ready to go.

Q. What do you remember from your first team playing experience a few years ago at Liberty National? What surprised you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It was cool. Yeah, again, it was just two years ago, so it wasn't too long ago. But, yeah, I don't know. It's just, it's, for me, I like this kind of stuff because I feel like it brings out another side in me. It kind of, I'm able to show my emotions, I'm able to just have a little bit more fun. You can't have, you can, but you kind of look like an idiot, to be honest, if you have those celebrations in a regular stroke play event with guys you're playing with. You have the opportunity to have some fun and let your emotions show, get pumped up with your partners, fire the crowd up, or silence the crowd. Sometimes that's the most fun is when you can kind of be that guy that kind of shuts the crowd up. That's pretty cool. But it's fun just to be in an atmosphere where you even have that opportunity. And I think this team is great to do that.

Q. Compared to a normal event, were you more nervous the first time?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, there's a reason I had Rick hit that first tee shot. First off, I didn't like the tee shot, and I was nervous, so I was glad to let him go because he had done it before. And that first tee shot, at your first team event is something that's hard to believe.

Q. Adam said over the weekend or before the last tournament that he hopes the Australians don't root for Tiger or anyone on the U.S. team. But knowing what Tiger means to this sport, can you imagine a scenario in which they don't?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I don't. I don't see a scenario that that happens. He's, I mean he's Tiger Woods. Everyone, it doesn't matter where you go in the world, I think people are going to root for him. Obviously, they would rather the people on their own team play better, but yeah, I think that just the fact that who is he speaks for itself. I understand where Adam's coming from. You, obviously, want the home team to pull for your home team, but at the end of the day, I'm definitely glad we have him on our team.

Q. Even today people were saying we love you Tiger.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Oh, yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, that won't change.

Q. How is the time difference? Any trouble staying up last night?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, definitely didn't have a hard time staying up last night. I feel like a zombie right now. I don't know what's going on. But I'm -- it's usually not too hard going to sleep. It's just waking up at a good time. But I was good last night.

Q. Just curious how excited you are for the Citrus Bowl this season?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, boy, that's, that one caught me off guard. I'm not going to lie. I'm not as excited as I would be as a playoff game. And but I do, I'm looking forward to having a little side wager with Greller, Jordan's caddie, because he's big Michigan guy. So hopefully we'll keep our starters in when we're whooping on them.

Q. How are those flies going?
JUSTIN THOMAS: They're destroying me. I had on a couple today that were on my face and wouldn't get off. It's definitely something I've never experienced.

Q. Can you give us some insight into Captain Tiger? Is he, the plane trip over, were there lots of meetings, giving you lots of directions, instructions, firing you up?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I think that the big thing is that he wanted all that work done before we got here, and he did. So we had a lot of communication, we talked a lot beforehand. So once we got here it's just fine tuning about us kind of getting our feet under us. And if there's anything we maybe want to change or if there's any question he or any of the captains will come ask us. But coming here we had a pretty good idea what we were going to do, which is usually the case. But then we just kind of feel it out and figure it out. But, no, he's been a great captain so far.

Q. Any insight as to how many times he might play or sort of wondering how much?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. I think it's, I mean, I don't think it would be too hard to guess. But at the end of the day, he's, only he knows how ready he is and how he feels and how his game is. But like I said earlier, his number one priority is captaining the team this week and making sure that we come home with the Cup. That's the most important thing.

Q. You're one of the few people who really saw him at his, when he was struggling the most. Do you get a sense that when he made that call to Jay in early 2018, he was sort of looking at, this is the start of my segueing from a championship golfer to a leadership role within golf? That he was not sure he was going to get back to the same as a player.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, maybe a little bit. I mean, I know his competitive side. He's never done, if you will. He's always -- and I know he's, I mean, he's told me before, and all of us younger guys, if I could still be considered that --

Q. Yes.
JUSTIN THOMAS: -- that he wants to give us another run at this. And I know that he wants to do that, because he was sitting on the couch for a couple years there and all we kept talking about was how we wanted Tiger back. And nobody knows more than himself how bad he wants to come out and prove us wrong that we don't want him back. But that's all he kept hearing from everybody. But it is great and I think that everything he's done for the sport is unbelievable. But what he's doing now and continues to do, it's, it really is, it is unbelievable and it's really cool just because not only is he taken some of us as peers and friends, but just being captain of the Presidents Cup team and helping out with vice captains, assistant captains and helping out with the TOUR and a lot stuff behind the scenes that a lot of people don't see.

Q. You and the guys looked like you had a lot of fun out there with your practice round today. There was a few practical jokes and very light-hearted. Is that one of the best things about this team spirit when they're your teammates as opposed to your opposition?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I think any practice round is fun. We don't want it to be competitive. It's already grueling enough when we have three or four days of competition so. The lighter we can keep it, it's only Tuesday, we're honestly just trying to stay awake, we're trying to get our body feeling somewhat right again, and just going out to see the golf course. I've never seen it before. So while we're out there we were just having fun and shooting the breeze and trying to enjoy it.

Q. And it seemed you had a bit of fun with Patrick Reed, enjoyed the joke and the banter as well and he had some laughter watching that as well. So it must have been nice to see him have a smile.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, no, it's all in good fun. We needle each other all the time but it's never anything personal.

Q. Talking about Patrick, without going into specifics, when something like that is timed, where it's like, okay, here's Monday and now we have this story, is that going to affect the team just because it becomes a quote/unquote distraction? What impact does it have?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't think so. That's something that's great about Patrick is he's obviously, you know, he's been a great team player and he's always wanted to win points for the team. So I think the only way it could become a distraction is what the headlines are and how much we read into it. We're not here to read articles and get into this or that. We are here to try to win points for the U.S. team in the Presidents Cup. And I'm sure we could make it a distraction if we wanted to, but I would hope that all of us, and I would think that all of us would focus enough, and we're not too worried about it. It's in the past. And I understand it's going to be something that continues to get brought up, but none of us worry about it.

Q. Has it affected the team dynamically?

Q. Wives and girl friends here as part of a team rather than being on your own as an individual. Can you just talk to that? And then tonight getting dressed up in black tie and not normal at a golf tournament, but you do that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's great. All of our significant others are some of our biggest supporting casts and are there for a lot of moments that everybody else doesn't see and the good and the bad. So to be able to share really cool weeks like this, I think makes it a lot more special. And for me, especially, I'm very fortunate to have a great girlfriend that I love spending time with. So just to have these events and, for me alone, to see Australia and her as well, and then to get to do it together adds just another special moment to these team events.

Q. And being all suited up tonight and just walking in like bosses, is that how it's going to roll?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I hope so. It's hard for us golfers to look too cool, if you will. But I guess this is as close as we can get.

Q. Knowing how much Patrick relishes having a chip on his shoulder or finding motivation, do you think it might -- they might have poked the bear a little?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I hope so. I hope so. Because, like you said, there's, you know, there's a handful or I would say a group of guys in the world that can play really well pissed off and he's one of them. And that's another person kind of like Tiger. And I'm glad to have him on my team because if he has a 15-footer to win a match, I'm glad that he's on my side.

Q. It's kind of funny that scene at the first tee with the man who introduced him. And to your point, he hit a perfect stinger and said, how did you like that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Exactly. That's what he does best.

Q. When you guys come here to a place that the Australians don't see the Americans stars very often, do you feel like there's maybe not as much animosity because they're so appreciative of just seeing you guys? Tiger hasn't been here in eight years and, I mean, do you get the sense that maybe it's not going to be as bad as everybody seems to think it might be?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess I hadn't heard anything that it was it going to be bad and I didn't really expect that. I think the Presidents Cup -- I mean, again, this is my second one so I can't really speak a lot of experience -- but I just, it's, these places that we go to for, that guys have gone to for Presidents Cup, it's not places that you go to very often for golf tournaments. And with the Ryder Cup we're going to Europe where there's events all the time and they get to see great players all the time. And you don't get -- yeah, you have the Aussie Open, the Aussie Masters where you might get one or two top-10, 5, 20, whatever it is, guys. But not very often do you get 20 of the Top-30 in the world or Top-40 in the world in South Korea or in Australia. Does that make sense? So I just think that it is an appreciative thing to where they're just very happy for us to be here and we're obviously happy to be here. And although we want to beat each other, it really is, it's a great experience overall and we're lucky to be here.

Q. This Presidents Cup has been so one-sided in its history, do you think this week the Internationals need to play well and have to beat you guys for it to continue to stay relevant to a certain extent?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Personally I don't. That's probably not a very good question to ask me, but it's, I don't know, I mean it's, it is what it is and, yeah, the record is what it is. But we have a lot of great players and we played well and we played well in the right times and it's no knock against the Internationals at all, I just think it speaks to how well the U.S. team has been and playing well at the right times. But personally I hope that that's not the case, I'm looking to play well and take care of business, but at the end of the day this is a golf course and a scenario that I think could match up very well for them and we're going to need to play well.

Q. You've played for a couple different captains now. What makes Tiger different, other than the fact he's playing, I know that's an odd role.
JUSTIN THOMAS: You definitely get more texts between 1 and 4 a.m. than any captain, that's for sure. I don't know. He takes it -- he does, he take it's very seriously and he's, I mean he wants to be, he wants to be a captain that has a great winning record and he wants to, he wants all of us to feel comfortable and he wants there to be a lot of transparency, he doesn't want there to be a lot of unknowns and I think that's something that he's done very well with. Again, I've only had a couple I've been involved in like that, but he's definitely enjoyed the role, I think, and at least I think he has, I don't know if it's the case or not, but he seems to have. It's like any time we're together he's asking me questions, and I'm like, Dude, we already talked about this. You don't need to go too into it. I understand he wants to be so perfect and wants to do all this, but being in Florida and hanging out a decent bit, I'm kind of a good sounding board to where he can kind of ask me some stuff but, no, he's done a good job.

Q. You didn't get text messages at 1 in the morning from Stricker?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, I didn't. If it was it was probably from some hunting excavation or whatever he was on.

Q. The word "cheat" has been thrown around the last couple days. Is there a more demeaning word in the game of golf to be called that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know, I just, I think it depends on the context, really. It's like, if he did, then it's -- everyone's different. I mean, if I was called that, then I would, I mean, it would hurt and, but then again it would be, you know, are some people calling you it because they think you did, but you didn't? You know what I'm saying? So it's tough, but, I don't know, it's a weird deal, but like anything, in a couple weeks it's going to blow over.

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