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January 4, 2020

Justin Thomas

Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii

RACHEL NOBLE: We'd like to welcome Justin Thomas into the interview room at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Justin, 4-under on the day. Just talk about your round out there.

JUSTIN THOMAS: It was a good -- it's a good score. I felt like I really let a really good one get away from me. Shooting 5-under on the front and shooting 1-over I feel like on what I feel like is the easier side on the back nine is pretty frustrating. But it's tough out there in that wind, and there's some pins that were difficult to get close to. Just the hard part I think about that back nine is the greens are a little bit more exposed, and that's what makes it tough, I think, out there is the putting. You know, when that wind is blowing across the direction that the break of the putt and trying to gauge the speed and whatever it is, that part makes it tough. But I'm in a good spot going into tomorrow, so I guess that's all I can ask at this point.

Q. Weather today, how tough was it out there? It seemed like it got better towards the end.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it was tough all day. It wasn't -- it just was windy all day. That rain was annoying a little bit in the start and not even remotely close to yesterday, but it was still enough in the beginning off and on to make it tough. I mean, it's just tough out there. It's tougher. I mean, it makes an easy golf course play harder. It's the protection of the course. It's meant to play that way, and with the newer, firmer greens, the scores are obviously a lot higher, and I think the wind and the weather is the cause of that.

Q. That pin on 18, typical for a Saturday here. I'd be curious how the conditions were different for the shot you have to play or what.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's definitely a lot different. I mean, it was -- I mean, it's always a hard second shot if you're going for the green. It's not like you can leave it in a certain place from 280 off a downslope and it's no problem. But like it's probably more so like the shot Patrick had. I was far enough back where I'm going to be landing on the green anyway, but he could have landed that on the green pretty easily in the past and stopped even downwind, but now with the greens being firmer, you have to try to bump it, and the fairways are so soft and long that it's hard to bump it through the fairway.

It makes shots like that very, very difficult.

So it's really -- usually out here it was the back pins that were tough, and now it's the front pins, especially when it's downwind, because you have to hit it so high in the air but also control the wind and your distance but have some spin on it. So it's tough.

Q. You mentioned being in a good spot. Is it kind of hard to digest right now considering what it could have been?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Absolutely, yeah. I'm not very pleased.

Q. I would have to assume that the scoring is due to not only the weather but also, like you mentioned, the firm greens, newness of the changes and the renovations. What's the biggest factor because we have seen good scores in wind here for many, many years, so I'm guessing maybe the renovations have had a pretty good effect on how you can score.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I think it's easier to make putts on the greens, though. They roll a lot better than they have in the past. They're faster. They were very, very slow and very grainy to where it was hard to make putts. I mean, I'm still doing it, but I think you saw a lot of us just kind of leave it short and low in the past. But the greens are rolling a lot better, and I think it's a lot easier to make putts.

But it doesn't matter how easy a course is, you give us conditions like these last two days, it's going to be really, really hard. In terms of which one is a bigger factor than the other, I don't know. But I know for me, it's wind because if you have control of your golf ball, firm greens you can figure it out. You know where it's going to land. You know all that stuff. But it's just -- wind you have to factor in on every shot. Your tee shot, your second shot, your chips, your putts, no matter what it is you have to factor the wind in, and new greens have nothing to do with that.

Q. All that taken into account, it might be hard to answer this given all the variables, but how far back do you think is close enough? I don't know if we have a 62 out there.
JUSTIN THOMAS: We definitely have a 62 out there. The thing is is there's only a couple holes that are -- you stand on the tee like, all right, let's get a par and get out of here. A hole like 8 today is tough, but those last two days with the pin on the right, yeah, it's tough to gauge, but if you get the distance right, it kind of feeds to the hole, or No. 7 even, if you get it in the right spot, you can get it close. It's not -- they're hard holes on paper, but you're hitting a 9-iron or an 8-iron, and you can birdie a lot of holes out here.

That being said, it's still going to -- if it's blowing 30 or 35, that's going to be very difficult. But I'm not saying that someone can't do it, that's for sure.

Q. And you said the other day, which I found interesting, that the thing people often overlook in the wind is the putting. Could you elaborate on that a bit more and how the short ones --
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I had two putts today that the wind cost me from making it. On 11 or 12, such an easy putt, just outside the right, and I watched it roll past the hole, and it's a six-footer, not very severe, but the wind is blowing off the left, so it's like, well, what do I do, do I play it straight, and then if the wind dies it's going to break off, or if I play it where it's supposed to be and then the wind stays, I'm going to miss it.

But I mean, I can't complain. Every single person in the field has to deal with that, it's just tough, and it really -- sometimes you have to get lucky. You just have to time it at the right time. There I ended up playing the break how I saw it, and the wind picked up and I missed it right, and then the same thing on 17. It's just hard because you'll have these putts that are breaking that you have to factor in the wind with your break, but the wind doesn't stay consistent all the time. So that's something that all of us just really have to focus in on and just hope we get it right.

Q. In general we underestimate?
JUSTIN THOMAS: A hundred percent. Like I told you, that's something that really irritates me when I'm home watching golf on television how the commentators don't talk enough about how much the wind affects putts. We're playing on such fast greens most weeks that 5, 10 mile an hour wind will affect a putt, let alone when you get 25 gusting to over 30 like this week. It's a huge difference.

Q. Have you ever thought about a career in television?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not for a while. I've still got a lot of golf I want to play.

RACHEL NOBLE: Thanks, Justin.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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