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November 13, 2020

Justin Thomas

Augusta, Georgia

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, you all just witnessed Justin as he shot a second round 69 to finish at 9‑under after 36 holes. He teed off on No. 10, then he made birdies on numbers 15, 16, 17, 18, 2 and 9. This is Justin's fifth Masters appearance.
Justin, great day today. Make a few comments on the round?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Thank you. It wasn't an ideal start after a pretty good finish this morning. I was bummed about that putt on 18 this morning to finish my first round. I felt like that was a great chance to get tied for the lead and get a little momentum going, and I really hit a poor putt. I tried to get that out of my head as quick as I could.
Yeah, it was an odd start to be 2‑over after four. Kind of botched 13 pretty bad, but hung in there and understood as soft as the course is, I can make a lot of birdies and get it back. And was able to do that, and gave two of them right back on No. 1, and just tried to stay patient and hang in there.
So it's definitely not as low as I feel like I could or should be, but we're in good position going into the weekend.
Q. You mentioned earlier in the week that you were soaking up some knowledge from Tiger or soaking up some knowledge from Phil. Do you feel at this point that you have the knowledge and now it's just a matter more of execution?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I think I touched on that a little at the beginning of the week, is I felt that way really the last, probably, two years; that I know the golf course, I know what to do, what not to do. I know the subtle nuances. I just simply haven't executed it and performed it well.
You kind of‑‑ not kind of; you have to really throw all past knowledge out the window this week, as weird as it is. I had a chip on 15 this morning to that front pin that usually would be just brutal and really, really hard to hit close, and I had to trust that I just kind of had to gas it and hit it pretty hard and it was going to spin. You know, balls are making pitchmarks with chip shots and pitch shots.
So a lot of the history and things that you know about the golf course, it can sometimes hurt you this week because of what you're used to. But at the end of the day, it is a lot softer and a lot more scorable, obviously, but it really has just come down to executing a little bit better and minimizing the mistakes.
Q. Unique situation today in that you finished on 18 and 30 minutes later, you're back on the back side. Is there any benefit to that, to build some momentum during the round?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Really just depends how you're playing. It was nice to play well this morning, but I felt like, you know, not‑‑ I had a good look on 11, 12. I had a short club into 14. Had a good look on 16. Short club on 17. Good look on 18.
Not getting any of those was a little frustrating, but it's only the first round. No reason to get frustrated or press or do anything like that.
So I understood I was playing well. I took probably the ten minutes that I had to go to the putting green and work with John on just a couple things because I felt I was a little‑‑ something was off and I was just trying to figure out what it was. I had an idea, but I just wanted confirmation from him. We just kind of did that and stuck to what we were doing and get back out there.
Q. Can you tell us what was off?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I have a tendency to get a little long and slow with my stroke, and I think especially out here with the greens, they can get‑‑ they were definitely faster today than they were yesterday, but especially in the past, I have a tendency to get very skittish and scared on some putts, especially the ones that are breaking so much.
When the greens are this good and this severe, you have a huge variety of break that you can play on a lot of putts. I think my timidness in the past has caused me to play the maximum amount of break and feel like I need to dribble it in so it doesn't go three or four feet past, when in reality on greens this good I'm going to make, I would hope, all of my 3‑ or 4‑footers.
And if that causes me to make two or three more a round, then I need to be a little more aggressive and hit a shot, is what John calls it. So just getting a little bit shorter and quicker is what it feels like to me, because when it gets a little longer, I get a lot more face rotation and drag it and de‑cel and hit a bad putt like I did on 18 this morning.
Q. How difficult is it to throw away that past history and your knowledge and trust in the now and these new conditions?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It's really hard. The hardest way to set up this golf course would be to put 18 back pins; the greens are so soft, or they were yesterday and today. I know they are going to get firmer. I'm fully expecting that. But you know, I had two 5‑woods backed up today. You look at a hole like 4 with that back left pin, you're trying to land in that front left little nook there, and it's just going to go all the way to the hole. And I hit a 5‑wood today, which is something, I've never hit a 5‑wood on that hole before, and I flew it up on the top shelf and kept it short of the hole.
It's bizarre to feel like to get it close to a hole like that, you know you have to fly it up on top because you're usually just‑‑ can't hit it over that green. But now I understood that if I landed on the green, it was going to stop.
So it is weird, but everyone's dealing with it. It's not like I'm the only one that has to adjust or make‑‑ or may be uncomfortable in certain situations. The entire field is dealing with the same thing.
Q. Can you take us back to your very, very first round here and your thoughts about, yeah, I could see doing well here, or whatever your thoughts were?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I played my freshman year of college, so that would have been February, so that would have been 2012. I played with Jeff Knox, Lee Knox, who's on the team in Alabama, his son, and Bobby Wyatt. It was straight after I think our first event in Puerto Rico, and we were so excited. Lee, when he was in school, would bring a couple guys on the team each year and go play, and Bobby and I just happened to be in that shift, I guess, if you will.
And I just remember being so excited to be here, to come out here. It felt like a tournament round you're getting ready for, you're nervous on the first tee. We had a great day. I remember I shot even. I made six birdies and it was soft so it wasn't very difficult in that regard.
But no, I think it's taken me a little bit to get over‑‑ not‑‑ I guess maybe the fear of Augusta National. It's going to play different every year and different conditions. So when it's firm and fast, you have to play it totally different than you do weeks like this. You can make so many birdies out here if you have control of your golf ball. You're driving it well. You have a fair amount of short irons into the greens. And the greens are so good, if you get it in the right spots, you can make it from everywhere.
I'm not going into the rounds expecting to shoot 6‑ or 7‑under, but I understand that you know, don't go into the round having an 8‑ or 9‑iron being like, oh, I have to hit it over here. I can't short‑side myself. I'm like, dude, it's a 9‑iron, trying to make birdie. Took me a couple years to get over that.
But I kind of go back to that round, like, dude, remember you made six birdies when you were a freshman in college. I would hope you'd be able to handle it your fifth appearance now.
Q. Were you the low man in the world?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I was. I beat Mr.Jeff, which is all I cared about at the time because I know he tears this place up.
Q. Can you give us a highlight or two of the four‑birdie finish, and really, for all the talk this week about power and distance, can you speak to how you feel maybe your short game can be a really big asset around here?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I think there's two extremely important assets to this tournament. I mean, I think iron play has been pretty consistent in terms of all the winners have been very high up there in greens hit or proximity or whatever you want to call it. It's definitely, in my opinion, a second‑shot golf course.
Obviously, if you don't hit the drives well, the approach shot becomes a lot more difficult. You know, on a fair amount of holes, you have a relatively generous driving area, and it is just about getting it in the right spots in the holes and just having control of your distance.
The four, yeah, making the turn there, I was 2‑over and hit a really poor wedge shot on 14 and made par there.
15 was a really, really good shot. I was in between clubs. I had 231 hole, 216 front right. I think it was like 222 to cover the left and I had the trees in my way slightly, and I mean, I hit my 4‑iron that I have, I hit exactly 231 right on that number, but it was a little bit of hurt. Ball wasn't still quite going as far. The air is a little thick, and usually to that pin you land something, especially if it's drawing on that front part to the right, it's going to feed right to it.
But that's not the case right now. I knew if I roasted that 4‑iron, I could get it there, but that wasn't the appropriate play. So I felt like that 5‑wood, it's such a great club for me because I felt I could hit it how I want, I could hit it really low if I need to or really high. It's funny, that club I got for this tournament in 2016, I guess, my first time, and I'm still using it.
When I need to hit it really high, I don't choke down on the club, as weird as it is. I always choke down a little bit to give it better flight. So that would be one I try to hit in the air, but the ball is above my feet, so I had to choke down a little bit.
I judged it perfectly to where it came out spinny to get up in the wind, because that's a 250‑yard club and you don't want to go over it, and was able to fly it 226. That was a really, really good shot for the time being, and got me a little momentum.
Q. Curious how you deal with going straight from your final hole the first round, you don't really have enough time to cool down, and then warm back up, and you go straight to the first. Does that disrupt your rhythm? And I'm curious, if so, how you build that back and get comfortable on the course?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It was quick enough where you didn't quite have long enough to get out of any rhythm. As soon as I saw my card, I went to the locker room, just grabbed a little bit of food. Went and marked my golf balls for the next round. And by then, I turned around and I told John, who I work with in putting, to meet me on the putting green by 1 / 10 tee.
I met him there a little bit after 10, and we hit putts for probably six, seven minutes. And within a couple minutes we knew what was going on, and then, yeah, we walked to the first tee at about 10:11 and pegged it at 10:14.
Q. So doesn't feel like your rhythm is being disrupted?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Not really, on a day like this where it was nice. When you get those 45‑, 50‑degree days where it's a little chilly where any time you don't spend hitting or moving, you're going to get tight. But it was hot enough, warm enough to where I was doing enough. I didn't feel like I needed to go to the range and hit a couple balls, and frankly, I didn't really have time to, anyway.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in today, and all the best for the rest of the tournament.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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