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August 4, 2020

Justin Thomas

San Francisco, California, USA

Harding Park Golf Club

Press Conference

JOHN DEVER: Welcome back, everybody, to the 2020 PGA Championship here at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Please to be joined by 2017 PGA champion Justin Thomas. Justin, this is your eighth PGA Championship, and congratulations on your win last week in Memphis. Obviously you're here to win again, and coupling that with the win in Memphis, that would take two wins in two weeks, which you've actually done before in Hawai'i. Maybe talk about the challenge that is winning twice in a row and what you might have learned from your Hawai'i experience a few years back.

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, obviously it's hard enough to win one week in a row out here, let alone two. But at the end of the day, last week is over with. This is a new week. We have a new field, new guys that are out here, all trying hard, trying to win a tournament, trying to win a major, and I'm trying to do the same thing. What happened last week is something I feel like I can only use to my advantage as opposed to hurt me, or at least I'm hoping so.

But no, I'm playing well, feel like we're doing things well. I've never seen this course until yesterday, so I'm just trying to get to learn it the last two days and really get rested more than anything, kind of get my energy back so we're ready to go come Thursday.

Q. Can you update us on how Jimmy is doing? Did you talk to him after you won? Did he offer you any congrats?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, absolutely, I talked to him afterwards. He's doing better. He's doing fine. The hard part for him is that when he's home, when he's not doing as much or when he's indoors, he doesn't feel the same way, so it's hard to tell how he is, if that makes sense. It's just when he -- especially the last eight weeks. We've had some pretty serious heat starting with Fort Worth going into last week. Very, very different than this, that's for sure.

But no, he's got some tests done and they've all gone well, and now at this point it's just about trying to get -- just like me with my golf, you have to try to get a game plan to get better and figure out what he needs to do, whether it's some different medicine or different things here or there.

Like him and I discussed at the beginning, his health is way more important than anything in terms of what we do on the golf course, so that is the number one priority, and that's what we're trying to get, or he's trying to get.

Q. Obviously you had to go to the bullpen with a late call to Bones last week and it clearly worked out very well. Was there any adjustment? Is there still any? How does it work? You're the boss, but how much input do you take from a guy who hasn't been with you that much?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, the reason why he was the first person I called is just because he has done it before. At Sony he had caddied for me, so it wasn't totally fresh. It was a couple years ago, but it's just -- it's important, and I think that's -- Jimmy would be the same way if he went to someone else or Joe LaCava or whatever. It's just like, the best caddies also understand that we're really good out here, so at the end of the day we need to do -- they're here to help if they need, but at the end of the day it's like, look, I've got 205 yards, I'm going to hit a 6-iron. Not offense, there's not really that much you're going to say to me that's going to help me do that any better, if that makes sense. There's going to be plenty of things out here where I don't know the courses as well as Bones or Jimmy does or would have, so I'm going to rely on them for little course knowledge stuff, but as much stuff as any caddie gives you, if we don't execute it, it doesn't work out. But it's just little things about the right thing to say and asking under the gun, which Bones did a great job last week, and like Jimmy has always done for me. It's saying the right things at the right time, or I guess you could say not saying the wrong things at the wrong time. That's what a great caddie does, and that's what a lot of them out here do.

Q. Do you think that interlocking grip is better for guys who swing really hard like you do?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I have never heard that or thought of that in my life until just now. I can't imagine it makes a difference one way or the other. I mean, for someone like me, I have really small hands, so if I did an overlapping grip, I mean, I would hit it right more often than not. I don't think it makes any difference at all, no.

Q. Just curious your take on the golf course that you've seen so far, what stands out to you, and how does it compare to other PGA Championships that you've played in the past?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, the fun thing about the PGA is that I feel like we play a wide variety of golf courses. All great golf courses, but I mean, I didn't play Bethpage last year, but this is different than Bethpage. It's way different than Quail Hollow. It's different than -- I'm trying to think -- different than Bellerive, different than Baltusrol. Yeah, it's just -- they're all different, but they're all good tests for what they are.

It's interesting for that reason. But this course is great. It's fun. It's right in front of you. It's not tricked up. You just have to hit the fairways. You have to have control of your ball. I mean, I've only played 18 holes, but it seems pretty difficult in my eyes. I think it's going to be a little bit more of a challenge this week than maybe some in the past.

Q. How tough is it figuring out yardages when you go from so much heat in Memphis and Columbus before that to the cold, damp air here? How hard is it to trust taking that much off a 6-iron?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, the thing is I think there's not a science. It's not like you're in Mexico where hey, I'm playing 12 percent here. It's like, hey, it's pretty cold here and we're into a little bit of a mist, like this is probably something like 15-, 20- yard difference.

I mean, we're going to probably play an exact number, but in terms of like an actual science, hey, this seems to be pretty automatic every time, it's just sometimes if you're in the first cut, the ball spins a little bit more and that's going to make it go even shorter versus if the rough is wet versus if it's dry. It's little things like that to where all of us have experienced enough out here, and we know just kind of when we're in the scenario what that shot is going to withhold. But yeah, the ball goes very, very short here.

Q. Along those lines, can you compare -- I don't know if you've had a chance to get on the TrackMan this week, but can you compare any kind of numbers that would be mindboggling from this week to last week as far as ball speed or club head speed?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I know yesterday I certainly wasn't moving very quickly, but today my club head speed with the driver was 115, 116. I was topping out at 116 and a half maybe, and I was getting a couple numbers in Memphis of -- I was kind of cruising at 119, 120 and I could get it up to 123, 124 if I really, really went after it. I mean, that's a big difference, especially if I'm hitting the ball -- if I'm hitting up on it here versus in Memphis. That's a 30-yard difference.

I was getting ball speeds if I really cranked one out here, I was getting 74, something like that. Pretty much all of them were in the 70 to 72 range, whereas the same thing in Memphis, I was getting 77 to 81. It is quite a difference. But at the same time it's not only happening to me. At least I'm telling myself that to make myself feel better. But no, everyone is going to be moving slower in this cold.

But at the same time I try to look at that as an advantage to hopefully I feel like my body is moving well and this is what we work for to where because of the weather I can keep a little bit of speed up and not hit it totally short.

Q. Since the restart, what aspects of your game have given you confidence that you can win a major this week?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Just I've been playing solid. I've been driving the ball well, which is something that's going to be key here. I think that's -- I mean, if I could sit down and choose something, I can make an argument for all of them, but driving the ball well is going to be a big, big priority this week. I think that's going to be something that whoever wins this golf tournament is going to most likely be driving the ball pretty well.

It's something I've really, really worked hard, especially during the quarantine, but even before that I was working on driving the ball more consistently. My good driving days are good, but it's about getting those bad driving days better. Same with the bad rounds of golf. You want your fluctuation to be more here as opposed to here. And I think that's something I've gotten better at is managing my bad rounds and managing my emotions, and especially during a major championship you have to do that.

Q. How would you compare packing for this PGA Championship in August with packing for the British Open?

JUSTIN THOMAS: That's a good question. It's pretty similar. I would say both weeks -- here you're more likely to be wearing a short sleeve, but you're pretty much looking at whatever that layering piece is is what you're going to be in the entire day. But the thing is for the Open, you're most likely going to be throwing a rain suit on with whatever you have, whether it's that cold or whether it's just raining. That's what I've done many times.

The one difference at an Open Championship is three of the four days I've just gone to the course in sweatpants and haven't even put golf pants on because I know I'm just going to wear my rain pants over them the entire day.

Q. It seems like when someone plays really good golf, the narrative is the next step is winning a major, whether it's Rickie or whatever it might be. Have you ever thought about how fortunate you were to have gotten yours out of the way quickly and not having to face the questions that have gone to Rickie, are probably going to start going to Jon Rahm and Xander and whoever else?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yes and no. I could argue that I could have gotten it sooner or I should have gotten it sooner, but at the same time I would definitely say I've underachieved saying I've only had one so far in my career. I've felt almost getting the second one has been harder than the first one.

Q. Why is that?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Why is that? I don't know. It just seems like it -- I don't want to say anybody can win one, but it's definitely harder to win two than it is one. I mean, that's a very obvious statement. But I don't know. It seems like to kind of get into that level, that other level, and to be getting up into the double digits in majors for a career, you need to get going a little bit or you need to start winning some, and when you're stuck on one, it's pretty hard to get there because you've got to get to two first.

I don't know, you could argue that one is just as hard or harder, but I've found that it's been every bit as difficult to try to get it done. I mean, it's hard to win golf tournaments. It's really hard to win majors. That's the fact of the matter, no matter if you have won them or haven't, it's still tough.

Q. With regard to No. 1, almost as a sports fan, not necessarily golf, do you enjoy the volatility that you're in right now with that No. 1 spot? Obviously Jon had it for a cup of coffee or two and you wrested it away on Sunday, Brooks is right there, Rory is right there, DJ is not far away. How much do you enjoy that back and forth, and what does No. 1 mean to you when you do have it like you have it right now?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, can't say much about Jon. I think we had it pretty much the same amount of time when I had it a couple years ago, but it was the same sort of thing. It was to where literally it could change every single week, and not only just change but it could change with not even winning a tournament, it's that close. But I've gotten myself to the point now where I do have it back, which is an awesome feeling. It is great. But now it's just about trying to separate it and see how long you can hold it. But it's not like I'm out here playing this week to prove my No. 1 in the World Ranking or to try and grow my lead. I'm out here for one reason, it's just to try to win a golf tournament. It just happens to be a PGA Championship and the ranking is what it is.

It is cool. I mean, it shows that to get it done when guys are playing at a very high level, but there's a lot of -- a handful of people that have had it for a short amount of time and I just want to hold it for quite a bit longer.

Q. I had asked Tiger a little bit earlier today if there were some tournaments, particularly majors, where that week he knew that he "had it," so to speak, and obviously his powers were more than anybody in history other than Jack probably, but he said there were some times, probably three or four times where if he just stayed upright that week he was going to be in the mix on Sunday. I was wondering what your confidence level is. Do you ever come to a golf tournament when you're in really good form thinking that you're the guy to beat as long as you just kind of keep what you're doing rolling?

JUSTIN THOMAS: A little bit. Yes and no. I always know that if I manage my game well and I play pretty well, then yes, I do feel like I'm going to be in contention. But at the same time, you could -- it doesn't matter how good I feel, if I just played poorly on Thursday or get a bad draw or just things don't go my way, no, I don't have a chance. I've definitely had that feeling on a Saturday and Sunday to where I'm like, just do what you're doing and you'll be fine kind of thing.

But no, I guess I haven't gotten to that point in my career where I feel like that before I even tee off.

Q. You mentioned the difficulty in getting No. 2. I'm wondering if maybe winning last week and having a tournament last week and kind of rolling right into this might make that a little bit better. I wonder if there's not as much hype or not as much time to think about there's a major coming up this week, it's just kind of here.

JUSTIN THOMAS: I hope so. That sounds good in theory. I like it. That definitely can seem that way, and I've played well in the past coming off of a tournament or coming off of a win. But this is a little bit different because usually after the -- the week after winning if I've gone to a tournament I've known the course or I've played it before where I'm not out here on a Monday for sure, let alone a Monday playing a practice round because I've never been here. I understood Sunday night that I was going to need to come out here and work on a couple things and see the golf course.

But no, I mean, again, my game is in a good place, obviously, and I feel really good about everything. My body feels good. I've been doing a lot of trending the right way in a lot of directions that we've been trying to. At the end of the day I just need to execute once I get out on the golf course and tee it up on Thursday.

Q. Given your bloodlines with your dad and your grandfather being PGA professionals, does it give you kind of a different perspective this week to see the 20 club pros here on the grounds?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I was fortunate to come to a couple PGAs with my dad when he served on the board with the PGA. I've known some of them. I've talked with them, and I'm obviously able to relate with them a lot with my dad. It is cool. I mean, it's a really great thing that the PGA does, having the club pros playing, and every year it seems like a couple of them play well, and it's fun for them, too. They're great players, and they do very, very well in what they play in, but it's also cool for them to get to come out here and be like, wow, this is not just a PGA TOUR event, this is a major championship. The PGA is historically the greatest and deepest field that we play, and for them to be a part of it, it's cool.

Yeah, it's definitely special with the history of my family, as well.

JOHN DEVER: Thank you, sir, for being with us, and good luck this week.

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