September 4, 2020
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
East Lake Golf Club
Q. Justin, how was this first round a little different than last year's round, and do you like being the pursuer better than the one being chased?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Well, I learned last year I would have rather been at 10-under than I guess 7 I started at. But that being said, I feel like I'm in a good frame of mind. Like I'm in a good place mentally right now where I would like to feel like I would handle the golf course the same no matter what I was at.
But I did a good job of just staying in my game today, my focus, and just trying to make birdies when I gave myself a chance.
Q. A little frustrated on the greens a little bit today? Made that one long one but some other opportunities slid by?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not really. I made some good ones there to start. Made a good one on 18 and 14. But when you give yourself that many chances you're not going to make all of them. There's a couple that if I would have had the speed up a little more I would have made, but a couple of them I just misread from short distance.
At the end of the day it would be nice to make all those, but it's just not realistic. To go around here with not a great putting today and shoot 4-under is pretty good, I think.
Q. I don't know what it's going to end up being, but you're going to gain strokes on the leader the way it works out. Do you look at that as a success no matter how many strokes it is, just as lone as you keep chipping away at that advantage?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I never really thought of it until you said that, but I'm just happy that I put up a good round. I think I've had a hard time out here in the past where I've shot a lot of 68s and 69s, just a lot of them.
I kind of get off to not necessarily a start like today, but 2-under through 7, 8, 9, and then just kind of stall like I'm trying to maintain or not mess up as opposed to keeping the pedal down.
I felt like I did a good job of that today. I mean, that easily could have been a 61 or 62. But to finish out how I did the last five holes, to save one of the 68s or 69s that I've shot a lot in the past, turned it into a 66.
Q. You said yesterday you felt like was going to be different. Is it different because of you're starting or is it different because of your mindset?
JUSTIN THOMAS: You could probably say both, but I think mindset. I tried not to look at leaderboards today. I just tried to play golf and get in my own little world and not really worry about what was going on and what those guys were doing or what the guys in front of me were doing.
I'm trying to beat every person for 72 holes that I'm playing this week, and if that happens to beat everyone else, then so be it.
Q. You sort of answered what I was going to ask about the leaderboard. At what point do you look at it or pay attention to it?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I saw it today. I wouldn't call it paying attention. I see it, but once you get into Saturday and into Sunday you definitely need to start looking and pay attention, at least I think so, to see if you need to press anything or play conservative if you have a lead or whatever it might be.
But at the end of the day as soft as the golf course is right now, if you hit the fairways you've got to stay aggressive and make birdies.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports