May 20, 2022
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Southern Hills Country Club
JOHN DEVER: Welcome back to the 2022 PGA Championship here at Southern Hills Country Club. We are joined by Justin Thomas, who put up a second straight 67. He is 6-under par for the championship and at the top of the leaderboard.
Justin, second straight day with bookend birdie to begin your day and end your day and a lot of efficient golf in between. You must be pretty pleased.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, very pleased. I felt I played -- although I played solid yesterday, I played really, really well today. The conditions were obviously very difficult. I stayed very patient, tried to get in my own little world and get in a zone and just tried to execute each shot the best I could.
I felt we did a great job of that and am glad to have a good round to show for it.
Q. You say that you've put perhaps too much pressure on yourself in majors in recent years. Obviously things are going a lot better this week. What's changed?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. It's golf, so it's pretty hard sometimes. I mean, I like this golf course. I feel like I'm playing well. We're halfway through so it's still a long way from home, but I'm very, very pleased with where everything is at and the frame of mind and state of mind that I'm in.
Just need to try to maintain that the best that I can and keep trying to play good golf.
Q. Compared to last week, does this almost feel like a different sport?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I know what you're saying. I mean, no. But it just such a different style of golf. The fairways being Zoysia versus Bermuda is a huge difference. The rough is obviously a lot longer here; the course is just a lot tougher in general; more narrow fairways, more severe greens. It's definitely a different golf course.
But I know what you're saying, but it's still the same in the end.
Q. You mentioned earlier this week that you were kind of trying something new by playing the week before. How are you feeling about that decision right now?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, so far I'm obviously pleased with it. But like I said, we have two days left, and I just feel like last week got me in a little better routine and just preparation coming into this week.
But you never know. If I'm playing well, I hope and feel that I would still be able to shoot 67-67 coming off an off week. But it's easy to say right now due to recency bias that it was a good decision.
Q. How are you feeling over the ball today compared to yesterday? And obviously with the wind having to play a couple different shots, what were a couple of the most satisfying?
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I felt quite a bit better today. I think just being as windy as it was, it was a lot of manipulating and different shots. The way I played the last hole, I couldn't have really drawn it up any or much better. A perfect kind of little slider driver and leaving that gap wedge just under the hole there and making that putt right in the middle. That was a nice way to end it.
But that 6-iron that I hit on 5 today was nice. To be able to hit that thing up on the top shelf pin-high from 213 with a pumping cross wind off the left and then to make that putt, I felt like I stole one there. But that was a sweet shot.
Q. Which day was harder, today or that windy day at THE PLAYERS that you sort of survived and --
JUSTIN THOMAS: The wind that day was absurd. I would have to say that was more difficult. But this golf course I would have to say is quite a bit harder.
If I had to say, I would say that round was harder than this one.
Q. Why do you embrace playing in windy conditions so well? What gives you maybe an edge? I want to say distance control, but --
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, distance control helps. I don't know, I mean, confidence. I have confidence that I can execute still and hit the shots that I want. I would like to hope a little bit of it is skill, that I've worked hard enough that I'm good enough to be able to execute that kind of stuff. But I don't know.
It sucks sometimes when you're playing and you're not playing well, but it's fun to be able to challenge and execute some shots when you're trying to.
Q. Your approach shot on No. 12 and then into No. 18, you and Bones had plenty of discussion, talked about what type of shot you wanted to hit. How much has your relationship grown to where in this situation you can rely on each other to where you make sure you make those right decisions?
JUSTIN THOMAS: A lot. You get more and more comfortable every week. I think a lot of it out of the rough this week is very much the player's call because you can technically make the ball go about as far as you want out of this Bermuda rough for the most part.
It's the perfect length to where it's not necessarily chip-out rough, but if you just kind of pinch it and hit on it perfectly, the ball just comes out high with no spin and can just go so far that you really just have to trust your instincts and also guess correctly.
Bones just kind of put faith in me on that one.
But yeah, on 18, that was another instance of us just trying to hit the green and what club we felt like had the best chance to do so, and after talking it out, we both agreed that that was our best chance, and we did what we wanted; we made 4.
Q. You talked a lot about your affinity and trying to shape shots around a golf course like this. Do you think that's a characteristic that's valued a lot throughout the course of the year, shot shaping and kind of shot making?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I think so. I think it's definitely more important some weeks than others. You get to a place like a Palm Springs where the wind doesn't blow and the greens are pretty soft, it's just see pin, hit pin, and go from there.
But especially in a couple months when we get to St. Andrews, I would like to think and hope that that's going to be pretty useful, and being able to get some balls not necessarily close to the hole but around the hole.
But that's a long way away, and we're just hoping that what I'm doing here just continues to work for this course.
Q. This venue historically has been great for frontrunners. Any theories on why that is?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know, but if I maintain the lead, I hope that that trend continues.
Q. Does anything about the course make it harder to chase do you think?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I don't know. You can't force things, so -- I'm not sure. I've never played this golf course in competitive rounds other than these last two days, so I'm probably not the best person to ask.
It was long enough ago that I don't necessarily remember watching to know what happened. I know Tiger won here, and that guy was pretty good with the lead so I think he's kind of an outlier.
So I'm not really sure what happened in the other ones.
Q. In the past I've had players explain to me that their secret to hitting good shots in the wind was to make sure they hit it absolutely solidly on the club faces. Is that what's good for you or do you have other tricks?
JUSTIN THOMAS: It definitely helps. Yeah, everybody is different. It's just whatever works for you. But for me, yeah, I really want to start the ball on my specific target because something very unique about this course is you don't have very many holes that are directly downwind or directly into the wind.
You have a lot of crosswinds, so your ball is doing a lot of curving as it's in the air. In order for it to come down on the target I want, I need it to kind of start in a certain window. Although hitting it solid is important, club face control is also extremely important.
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