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January 8, 2020

Justin Thomas

Honolulu, Hawaii

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Justin Thomas into the interview room.

Justin, thank you for joining us for a few minutes.


THE MODERATOR: Fresh off your victory last week in Maui. I know you're hoping history repeats itself this week going back to back.

If we can get some comments on the win last week.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it was a bizarre ending I think, to say least. It was probably fun to watch on TV, but not so fun to deal with at times.

No, it is great. I feel like I'm going to be able to build a lot on that last week and a lot of learning experiences and feel like I can really take a lot from it. Yeah, very easily and in all reality should have lost the tournament. To be able to come through and hit some good shots when I really needed to and make some putts to kind of stay in there and get it done.

THE MODERATOR: You holed out for eagle on No. 9 in the pro-am. I know that's a hole that means a lot to you. Just comment a little about this golf course and how much you like it.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, it's a cool course. It's so, so different this year than it always is. It's always really firm and fast. The greens are usually pretty firm, and I don't think I've ever played greens as soft as these this week.

So it's going to be a lot different. I've never seen the wind blow like this and it's supposed to blow like this every day. I thought I was going to get a little bit of a break after last week, but looks like we've got more wind and rain.

Luckily I had a little bit of a week head start, so hopefully it'll help.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Start with Doug.

Q. What's the difference of wind here versus last week in terms of playability on the golf course?

Q. A whole different golf course.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, yeah. Last week was more trees, so you kind of get some holes where you're a little bit protected. But then, again, you also -- as crazy as it is, you kind of have to factor for once a ball gets above the trees, or you'll get the holes that are very exposed, like the second shot on 10, tee shot on 11, 12, 13, and then get some holes back in trees where they aren't as exposed.

Whereas here it's all flat. It's not really that much protection. It's pretty constant throughout the course. So I would say last week you have a lot more -- the ball moves a lot more. It just feels like a lot stronger wind, although it was gusting over 30, 35 last week, where I don't think it's going to quite get to that here.

That wind at Kapalua is just very strong.

Q. All things relative, which is the harder course to face this kind of wind?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I would say here. It's going to be harder here. I mean, the fairways are just so big here. There are so many birdie chances, four par-5s.

I mean, even with last week, you know, three of the four days it blew really, really hard, and, I mean, I easily could have gotten to 17 or 18 under par still.

I think if it blows like that here -- I'm not good at guessing scores -- but it could be anywhere from 8 to 15. It's tough to say, but the greens being very, very soft is going to change a lot.

If you got wind like this in normal conditions, it would actually be a very difficult test.

Q. Obviously it wasn't easy last time, but very mental grind. You spoke about playing in the wind. That's going to make it tougher to do what you did a few years back, right, to back it up?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yes and no. I mean, it's just -- I mean, I'm not going to shoot 27-under this week, if that's what you're saying. I hope I do, but I wouldn't think so with this wind.

But I also have played in it for a week and I'm maybe a little bit more accustomed to it; whereas guys, you know, they live in cold, been hitting indoors, or maybe they go out west where it's in Palm Springs and it's not blowing at all, I mean, that is a big difference in getting used to it.

I definitely have a little bit of an advantage maybe having a week of it. Yeah, I'm probably also a little bit more tired than some of the other guys. For good reasons, so not complaining.

Q. To review, what was your attitude coming into the playoff, and how did you keep, I guess, a positive perspective when you had to go into it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, my mind frame was that I was given a second chance. I said to my dad as I was walking, he just asked, Do you need anything, from him. I was like, Yeah, I'll take a mulligan. He goes, You were just given one. I think when he said that it did sink in. Yeah, I was. I was very, very lucky to be in that playoff or for Xander to have the wind pick up on his putt and 3-putt to give Patrick and myself a chance. So it was a mulligan in itself, so I tried to telling myself that.

I just felt like if I just kept making birdie -- I think the 18th hole is a weird hole as a playoff, especially when you're trying to beat daylight. It's a very long hole and hard to walk. You're just going to make a lot of 4s. I just kept trying to tell myself, Don't be a hero and make a 3. If you keep making 4s I think I'll eventually outlast somebody.

If someone makes 3 and beats me, then so be it.

Q. Xander was talking about attitude and improving his attitude. He thought of all the guys out here, Webb might have the best attitude. I think he said strokes gained plus 50 or whatever. Where would you put yourself?

Q. Would you have a strokes gained plus?
JUSTIN THOMAS: For sure. I mean, attitude isn't necessarily if you don't swear and you're just happy-go-lucky all the time. My attitude is good because I'm a fierce competitor and I have all the confidence in the world that I can beat everybody else.

That's my attitude. It's not -- yeah, if I make a bogey I'm not going to be smiling walking off the hole and high fiving people, but I'm going to be like, okay, we need to make some birdies to get back in it.

Q. And turn it around.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah. So attitude is a very relative term in terms of if there was a strokes gained stat. Yeah, Webb is one of the nicest guys on the planet and he does have a great attitude and he is also competitive. I mean, best of both worlds.

But in terms of how we act and what we say on the golf course, Webb and I are probably a little bit different.

Q. Tiger be more like you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I guess. I don't know. I mean, similar in the sense we probably do some things that don't look that good on camera that we're not happy or proud about that we have done, but I guess it is what it is.

Q. This is a weird one to ask you. The last two years the winner at Mayakoba has won here. Is there any reason off the top of your head you can think what that coincidence might be?
JUSTIN THOMAS: No. I mean, there is wind there. There is a little bit of wind here. I don't know. It's short. Yeah. You got to make a lot of birdies, I guess. Greens are -- I don't know. Greens are faster here. No, I don't know.

I mean, the two very good players that did it, it's not too crazy of a coincidence, but I hope that's not the case this year.

Q. With all due respect, when we spoke to you after the win you sort of didn't look like a winner because you had been through the grind. Have you taken the time you spoke about I guess for it to sink in what you did last week? Do you feel extra proud again?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I'm proud, but it's over with. I mean, I'm just focused on trying to play well this week. I'll have two weeks after this week to enjoy it, if you will, or if I want celebrate it. I stayed there Sunday night and was able to have a couple drinks with my family and just kind of relax and sit down and just not have any stress or anything for the next day.

Once Monday night came around, it's done with and I need to figure out -- my dad and I were talking about what we needed to this week to get a little bit better and what we need to do to feel like we have a chance to win this week.

Q. And generally speaking, do you think you celebrate your wins enough? Some guys say they forget to sometimes.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I've always been someone to celebrate a win, whether it's enjoying it with people or doing something or buying myself something that I wouldn't buy myself. I mean, I have always been someone that I do that. I've always said, okay, my next win I'm going to buy this or...

It's like I'm not going to do it until I do that. I just feel like it's very, very important to reward yourself when do you something well or you accomplish something because you did something good. You deserve it.

Q. What will you buy?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I haven't yet. I think I'm going to get a car.

Q. What's the last thing you bought yourself? To the guy who has everything.
JUSTIN THOMAS: What was the last thing? Well, the car was that one. I just haven't had time to mess with any yet. I don't know. I mean, like I got my girlfriend a watch or do something like that. I got my dad a car one time. I always want to do something to where I feel like it's, okay, I accomplished it and I want to do it.

I built a man cave in my house one time.

Q. Urinal in it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It does have a urinal. (Laughter.)

Q. I'm just curious, when you think back to 2017 here, why do you reference 27-under instead of 253?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That's a good question. Easier for me to remember 27-under. Less math. I don't know.

Q. So we don't need to go down this road.
JUSTIN THOMAS: No, we don't. I don't know. I guess obviously it's the same, but it is different, because if you look at a 72-hole record you say it as 253 not as 27-under, so that is a good point. I might start doing that, but...

Q. You don't have to.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. I guess it's just because that is what my total was in relation to par. Yeah, not sure. I think that's what it is. Yeah, it's just like a lot.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: Birdie. Yeah. It is. I've never like -- imagine that. What did you shoot this week? Yeah, 272. I don't think anybody has ever done that. Maybe.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I shot however many under. Yeah, exactly. So I guess I don't know.

Q. What did you shoot yesterday, 2-under or 68?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Probably 2-under. Like I don't even know what I shot last week. I shot 15-under, but it's like I would never say...

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, exactly. It's never like -- so it's weird.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN THOMAS: There you go. I don't even know what that is.

Q. Yeah, just wondering, I'm from Central Ohio, and when I was assistant pro back in the '80s, your grandfather would always kick my butt. Just wondered if this course reminded you of his course in Zanesville?

Q. And how is your grandfather doing right now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: He's good. Yeah, I played Zanesville a handful of times. I was pretty young. I remember like the 1st hole that kind of went down and couple holes coming in, but a lot of the middle is pretty blurry. I do remember it was an awesome golf course.

Yeah, he's good. Just entertaining as always. I talked to him on the way to the course Sunday before I played. He said I'm hitting it good. Just like always, just need to make some putts and this and that. Yeah, he's great.

Q. I talked to Wahlberg. Said you guys are good buddies. Kind of give us a little synopsis of his golf game. I don't know if you've ever seen it before today.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, we've played a couple times. He's always fun to be around. I really enjoyed just playing with him, because I've always heard from other people in the film industry how hard he works. It's kind of cool to ask him questions and pick his brain, just kind of how he goes about it.

He didn't play great today, but he's always had his own method. He aims way left and comes across and hits it pretty far because he kind of d-lops (phonetic) it a little bit. But he can get it around pretty good. One thing you're always going to have when you play with Mark is it's going to be fast. You never have to worry about slow play. He gets it around there pretty good.

He's a very, very impressive guy. He takes everything he does, whether it's a business or a movie or directing very, very seriously and works hard. So it's cool.

Q. Favorites movie of Wahlberg?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That's tough. He's got a lot of good ones. Yeah, Shooter is a good one. I don't know. Just depends on the mood. I mean, Ted is hysterical and there is a bunch of good ones. He's got a good list.

Q. Xander was speaking last week, and he said that when he was young there were times where he didn't tell people he was a golfer because it wasn't necessarily cool. Now, you grew up through the golf world and always liked it. Was there ever a time where you felt that as a kid, that pressure of this isn't the coolest thing to be improved in, I should be a basketballer or a footballer?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I never had that. I loved it so much. I'm not saying that Xander didn't, but I don't know. I just didn't care. It's just what I wanted to go out and play golf with my dad and grandpa. I was watching Tiger and all these guys and just thought that looked so cool. Going to golf tournaments just seemed pretty cool in my eyes.

I definitely understand. I know what you're saying. You definitely would get some looks and some comments in grade school. You play golf? People probably call you a loser or whatever it is. It is what it is. I'm sure I didn't really care.

Q. I guess that comes to that, how do kids, per se, be strong mentally in that scenario? They've got people like you look up to now. Any advice you give people, be true to yourself or something like that?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I really don't think that's something that's that common. I don't think anybody is getting judged because they play golf. It is up and coming and there are so many -- it's in such a great state, the game is.

Yeah, I feel like the amount of young players coming out is great, but I don't think there is anything that -- kids are never getting judged. I don't really think I ever did. I might have. I don't know. When you're a kid, there is always something that you can make fun of other kids for.

I don't know. I think just telling them to enjoy it. That's what my parents always told me. They didn't care what I did, as long as I had fun with it then they would support it.

Q. Matt Kuchar is the defending champion here. He's been out 20 years now. Do you have a favorite Matt Kuchar moment or story that maybe he interacted with you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I got a lot that I can't share.

Q. That you can share.
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. I mean, it's bizarre. I feel like you have those guys you play with a lot, like I've played a lot with Jordan, Rory, a lot Tiger, who I just get paired with the first two days.

I think last year with Kuch was like the first time I've ever gotten paired with him the first two days, and then again this year. I don't know. He's just one of those guys I haven't played with a lot, but every time I do it's just unbelievable how good he is.

You know, he reminds me of kind of like a Zach Johnson where he plays his game, and doesn't matter what the course is, he is probably going to hit every fairway. If he can't, does have a good club, can't get there or whatever it might be, he always leaves it in the right spot and he always gets it up and down.

It's just really impressive to watch them pick their way through a golf course and how well they do it week in, week out for such a long period of time. I mean, Kuch is so funny. His humor is one of a kind.

Q. Is he in the middle of team rooms or does he sort of sit on the side and just sort of...
JUSTIN THOMAS: No. He's in the middle, but he'll just always say something like in the middle, out of nowhere that you're like, It's only Kuch. You know, him and (indiscernible) are both great assets to the team rooms and the teams for many reasons. The entertainment is definitely high.

Q. Since I'm asking about other players, how much have you played with Sung Jae Im, and what are your impression?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I played with him enough to know he's really, really good, freakishly talented. Good at pretty much every asset. Played with him in Korea last year, and he has unbelievable control of his ball.

A place like this this week with this wind -- well, he plays well every week -- but I would think he will play well because he just hits it so solidly and consistent.

Q. You're not playing 35 times a year though?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I am not personally, no.

Q. This is a big year with a lots things. Where do you put the priorities for the rest of the season with the Olympics and the majors?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I mean, priority right now is the Sony Open. That's all I'm worried about. Obviously majors with the Olympics are extremely important, but all I'm trying to do is prepare for the next event and try to peak at the right times of the year. You want to be peaking around the majors. Hopefully try to make the Olympic team first and then hopefully play well there. And then for the playoffs. I mean, there are a lot of different times you want to be playing well, but most importantly just staying healthy and rested throughout the year so that when I do tee it up I'm ready to go for that certain event.

Q. Does the Olympics have as much importance as a major for you?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I've never played in it so I don't know. I mean, it's very important. I would love to be a part of it. In terms of winning it, you're comparing apples to apples I think. Both extremely important.

THE MODERATOR: Let's take one more.

Q. I ran into Matt yesterday, and I don't cover the TOUR a lot, but the very first time I saw him I guess subliminally with popped into my head was the tipping controversy in Mexico. Do you think that was overblown and unfair to him and the reaction that he's kind of dealt with on the road sometimes is not fair to the person that he is?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That's just kind of between them and everything else.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Anything else? Justin Thomas, best of luck this week.

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