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May 17, 2022

Justin Thomas

Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Southern Hills Country Club

Flash Quotes

JULIUS MASON: Justin Thomas the 2017 PGA Champion is joining us at the 104th PGA Championship.

Justin, you made the voyage to Tulsa earlier this spring to play it for the first time.


JULIUS MASON: Give us some of your thoughts.

JUSTIN THOMAS: I loved it. I thought as soon as I came here, I came Monday last week with playing Byron Nelson, and I loved it as soon as I saw it. I just like the old school type of design and golf course. You know, tree-lined. Big fall-offs and run-offs on the greens and the bermudagrass makes it very difficult to chip. So it puts a premium on having different techniques and different styles around the greens and also puts a premium on ball-striking to where you can hit the green where you have to chip less. I think this is an unbelievable major championship venue and I'm glad it's here. It's a sweet place.

Q. We talked at the Masters about how you felt like you underachieved in majors up to this point in your career and you had a strange tournament with the opening round and had a back-door top 10. What do you take from that week?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I take a lot of positives. I was I think pretty far back is an understatement after the first day. It just was one of those kind of freak days where I just woke up not really into it. I just had a very hard time getting focused.

But at the same time, you know, I've got to be better at finding a way to get in that zone and get in that focus and I just didn't do it that way. It's hard to win any hurt let alone a majors or Masters shooting 76 the first round.

Thought I had played a really good round of golf on Friday and again on Saturday, and just scraped it around on Sunday. Looking at the week as a whole after Thursday, it was a solid week. As a whole, it is what it is.

Q. Last week, you were up near the lead making a bunch of birdies but you didn't win. Is that ever before a major, but to have a week like that, lose confidence?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I'm not sure. I usually don't play before majors, so I'm just trying something different this year for this. But I don't know. I'll let you know Sunday.

Q. With the PGA not being here since 2007, the course has probably changed a ton since it was here last year, but with the Senior here last May, did you reach out to anybody to ask for advice with it being your first time playing here?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I didn't. I probably should have done that. No, I did not.

Q. Obviously surreal to have a major championship without the defending champion here. Do you have sympathy for him or do you feel like he's a big boy and he's made his own bed?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't really have an opinion. I never wish bad on anybody. It's just I'm here to try to win a golf tournament and try to win the PGA Championship. I think it's going to be an unbelievable venue and a great week regardless.

Yeah, it's obviously about reform, but I don't feel very strongly one way or the other. I'm just here to take care of business.

Q. Secondly, what do you envisage the end game or best possible outcome of this Saudi situation being? Rory said a couple months ago it was dead in the water and he's now admitted to maybe jump the gun on that, but it's clear Greg Norman isn't going to go away quietly?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. I'm very content with the direction the PGA Tour is going, and I think it's just continue to go get better and better, very quickly, too. I think a lot of players feel the same way, which is very important. We have a lot of loyalty to the tour. They have done a lot for us.

That's the thing, yeah, we have all said things can be better, but same thing as if you went and played that. Like you want things better anyway. Like why wouldn't we all want things better than we have it?

So I mean, I'm not sure what the end game is going to be, and I think a lot of people very similar to myself are just kind of ready for it to happen or not and us stop answering questions about it.

Q. I was just watching, you had all different kinds of shots on the range, is that something that's always been part of your practice?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I've always -- I shouldn't say always. Probably the last handful of years, I've looked working the ball more. It's very situational. You get a soft week, greens aren't very fast. Working the ball doesn't benefit or help that much. If you get a week like this week where if these fairways get firm, you're going to have work the ball to hold the greens and work the ball up the slope and whatnot.

Honestly it was first time I played competitively with Tiger, I just asked him and I was like, you know, what we've played a lot of fun golf together but that was the first competitive round. What you do you see? He said, you don't move the ball enough. For me it was like, he's pretty good, he said that, I should probably try it.

Q. You've had the opportunity to see the golf course a couple of times. What stands out to you? Are there sections of the golf course that stand out to you and what in your eye or what do you anticipate you'll have to lean on in order to win this weekend?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. It just seems like a place where you just can't fake it around. You can't just kind of slash it around off the tee. I mean, the bermudagrass makes it very difficult to control your distance in terms of approach shots into the green.

You never know what you're going to get with the weather in terms of how firm and fast it's going to get. But if it gets firm and fast, this is going to be U.S. Open-like. It's going to be very difficult. It's going to be a challenge but a good, fair challenge. I think the pa, at least from what I've heard -- I haven't been on the golf course, I practiced a little yesterday and I'm going to go out this afternoon.

But from what I have heard they have not pressed the greens which is smart with the amount of slope and undulation on them. Fr me personally, I think it's going to be a big week for driving. If I drive the ball well, I'll have a really good chance to win, and I mean, obviously any major scrambling and making those key up-and-downs and par saves is always crucial.

Q. What's the specific challenge of bermudarough?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Just chipping or full swing?

Q. I guess both irons and then chipping, too.

JUSTIN THOMAS: It's like anything, judging the lie, and if you have the technique and you judge the lie, then you should be able to execute how you think it's going to come out, especially around the green. When you have a flyer lie, there's times where I have a 7-, 8-, 9-iron and I feel like I can hit it as far as I want. I can chip it and land it 160, or I could put it in the middle of my stance, really hit down on it steep and let it jump up in the air and fly it 200, 210. A lot of it like the rest of your game is controlling it and knowing when to use it, when not to use it and just playing smart.

I mean, around the greens is tough as well. You just have to practice it. It's one of those things, I remember we had a kid from Ireland come play at Alabama and he had not played a lot of bermuda, obviously growing up in Ireland and it was tough for him. I think people that don't play on bermuda a lot, it's difficult to learn.

Q. I realize you get asked a lot about when you are going to win your next one but is there any part of that you thinks back on having one won at an early age, nice to get that out of the way in terms of people who are now getting looked upon as, when are you going to win?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I sure as well would rather have one than zero. I totally understand what you're saying. It's a lot harder to get the second than I thought it would be, internally. Not as much pressure externally.

But just on me, it's like, obviously when you win one, to get to where you want to go, you have to win the next one, and when you get on a little bit of a drought, it can be frustrating.

But I'm just trying to stay patient and understand that a lot of great players with unbelievable Hall of Fame-like careers, with multiple major winners have not won one until they are 30 or 35. You never know, I could win one, two, three, four majors in a year. I just have to be patient and hope it happens as soon rather than later.

Q. The landscape we are in, the best to have never won a major, those guys used to be in their mid-30s. Tom Kite was 42 almost and getting the question. Do you get a sense, I don't know if bar is the right word, or label as being attached at younger ages than ever before?

JUSTIN THOMAS: 100 percent. I'm sure for Viktor Hovland to come out here, and like, when are you going to win a major, and he's been out here for three years and won however many times -- it's just one ever those things that you have to let happen. You can't force anything. I definitely agree, obviously I haven't been out here that long, but the age of when I first came out here of asking when guys were going to win their first one versus now quite a bit different.

Q. I know when guys turn up to a new course on the PGA Tour, they have all this ShotLink data to look at and some guys look at packets and the scoring average, do you look at those? And this week when you don't have the luxury of that, how do you learn this golf course in two days, three days?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't. I think, trying to say it as politely as I can, it's pretty obvious. I've looked at stuff before and it's like you get to go look at Riviera, 13 is a hard hole. Like no kidding. Like it's a tough hole. I didn't need a piece of paper to tell me it's a tough hole. It's one of those things, comfortability is more important than anything and if you get a situation like 10, 10 at Riviera where the percentage play is to go for it but for me it's not. I mean, I play that hole 1-, 2-under, basically every single year laying up and it's just a better fit for me.

I think you just play the golf course and make of it what you can. That was huge for me coming Monday last week because those practice rounds can be long and grueling. To make this week a little shorter and easier, I knew what I needed to practice the next two days, it just makes the prepare easier.

Q. Do you come out with a notebook or on your phone? How do you document it?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I'll write stuff that I feel important but nowadays, these yardage books are so good, there's pictures on them. It's not like Bones has to shoot this run out and be like, all right you see this tree like this, it's run out right there.

It's like no, you get a book you and open it up and it's like from the back of the tee it's 341 through on that free. You're like, all right, sweet. I didn't even need to check anything out. It definitely makes it easier but anything that I feel is important or something I might forget, I'll write down.

Q. For as long as we've all known Tiger, it's always been about the result and winning and whatnot. I'm wondering if you as being as close as you are to him and having seen the early stages of his recovery, when you look back at him getting through four rounds at Augusta plus practice rounds, what accomplishment in and of itself do you think that was?

JUSTIN THOMAS: It was very big. I think he has not been shy in sharing it, and it was one of those things, I think it was in the back of his head like it would be great, but I don't think he never really knew until it maybe got close, I don't know. But it was awesome. I was happy for him. I've seen how hard he's worked. His team has done an unbelievable job making it as easy as they can for him.

At the same time, he's not a normal person. If he needs to have two or three sessions a day in to have a potential being ready a week earlier, he's going to do that, whereas a lot of people, they don't really make it a priority.

It's cool to see him there and again here this week.

Q. When you see him now and you remember the state that you saw him in when you went and visited him, what were your emotions back then in terms of thinking if he would ever get back in your mind?

JUSTIN THOMAS: It just wasn't about that. It was making sure he's okay, making sure mentally he's okay and his family okay. Just you're a friend. If something happened to one of your closest friends, would you reach out to them and their family and just be like, hey, I'm here for you, if you need anything, I'm here to help out and just let me know kind of thing.

Q. How long did it take you to get used to playing bermudagrass? You grew up in Kentucky?

JUSTIN THOMAS: A long time.

Q. Do you have any clubs that you put in the bag this week?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't. I use a wedge that's generally a little more on the side of bermuda than an Open Championship or bentgrass. It's just what I've used most of my professional career.

So that's an easy adjustment. I mean, Aaron Dill with Vokey is great to where you can go any week and hey, it's like this, or I like it chipping but I don't like it out of the bunker, why do you think that is. He'll make his adjustments and I have full trust in all those guys to where if I ask a question, they can answer for me.

I haven't changed anything personally. Last week was zoysia, it's about as easy to chip off as you possibly could think of. Fortunately I've done a lot of practice at home and been on bermuda enough to I feel like I know what it's going to do. It's just about executing it.

Q. How long did it take to you get comfortable?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I couldn't give you a timeline but it definitely took through college. So I mean, at least four -- no, two years, wow, forgot about that. I only went to college for two years.

Q. Your Tweet yesterday about the concession prices, how did you end up noticing that and is that something that has been maybe talk with you guys in the locker room or something?

JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I just saw it and I was blown away. Sorry, Julius. It's just a bummer.

You don't want -- you want people to come to the tournament. If I'm on the fence and I'm looking at the concession stand, that's not the greatest thing. But at the same time, people aren't like coming to a tournament, like, oh, I'm going to go buy a Michelob Ultra, you know what I'm saying mean. I was just blown away because I've never seen a beer $18 or $19 in my life. Guys have been talking about it, so I, you know, had to stand up for the fans. Felt like it was right.

Q. Have you made any significant strategy changes since Bones is on the bag? Do you have a different view of anything?

JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't think so. There just may be -- he's definitely more aggressive. I think that's pretty apparent or easy to understand from past. He's definitely a lot easier to convince if I want to try something I may be shouldn't than Jimmy.

But I just -- no, he's been great, and he's so good at adapting and just kind of taking the moment or taking each week for what it is. He treats every week like it's our first week, and hey, you know, what can I do better this week, and if I feel like he can doing some, I tell him and vice versa.

But specific shots, no. He'll do anything and everything possible to make sure that I and we have the best chance to win every single week, which as a player, is a good really good feeling having that as your caddie.

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