Justin Thomas has labelled this week’s host U.S. Open venue at Winged Foot as the hardest golf course he’s ever played.
However, Thomas admits he’s not scared with such a label.
For the now 27-year old 2017 PGA Championship winner, this week marks only his sixth U.S. Open showing with a best finish of ninth earlier in 2017.
And having played a practice round with Tiger Woods on the Monday following the Northern Trust, Thomas is clearly excited to be back on Long Island.
“It’s incredible. I absolutely love it. It’s probably one of my favourites I’ve ever played, to be honest,” said Thomas of this week’s Winged Foot host venue.
“It’s hard, so it’s a different kind of fun, but it is fun. It’s all right in front of you. It’s nothing tricky, nothing crazy. Yeah, you need to play well and have control of your golf ball, otherwise you’re going to get pretty exposed.”
The World No.3 was asked just how hard but then responded saying it was ‘fun’ but also admitting it is going to be ‘such a grind’.
“It’s a different kind of fun. It’s not a 20, 25-under kind of fun,” he said.
“It’s a U.S. Open. It’s tough. You know it’s going to be tough, and you know par is a really, really good score. Maybe it’s just because it’s Tuesday I’m saying that. I might not think the same at the end of the week.
“But it is, it’s going to be such a grind. It’s going to be really, really difficult, but to me it’s fun to see some of those tough pars you can make, some of those really good 4, 5, 6-irons you can hit into the middle of the greens and really just who can manage everything the best.
“Yeah, you just have to embrace it, otherwise it’s going to eat you alive. I mean, especially a place like this, you’re going to make a lot of bogeys. You’re going to be put in some uncomfortable places, and you as a person are going to feel uncomfortable. It’s really just how you manage that.
“I’m not going into this week scared of Winged Foot. It is probably the hardest golf course I’ve ever played, I think. Oakmont is very tough, but I think that can get — it’s just more the speed of the greens than anything. But tee to green, the rough, the greens, everything factored in, I think this is the hardest course I’ve played.
“But that being said, I’m not going into it scared. I can’t play tentative. I can’t only try to make pars. If I have a scoring club, I need to try to make a birdie. But then if I get in trouble, I just need to get out.
“So I think the most important thing is try to take each hole for what it is and not make this place any bigger than it is because it’s already big.”
And after becoming one of Woods’ closest social golfing companions, ‘JT’ now finds himself grouped with the 15-time Major winner for the opening two rounds at Winged Foot.
“I’m comfortable around Tiger,” said Thomas. “He’s a really good friend of mine. I think he feels the same way where he’s comfortable playing with me.
“I was just very, very lucky to get the nerve side out of it with him. I spent — I grew up idolising the guy, and I still look at him as a role model in a lot of things that he does, especially with his golf game.
“I think I spent enough time around him early before we started competing against each other to where I kind of got the idol out of me, if that makes sense, to where when we go out and play, it’s business. It’s not like I need to hit this shot good to impress Tiger Woods, it’s I want to beat Tiger Woods.”