Justin Thomas: “I’m not where I feel like I should or want to be”

Mark McGowan

Justin Thomas (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Reigning PGA Championship title holder Justin Thomas recently turned 30, a milestone birthday in most walks of life, but the despite being one of the most successful players of the last six or seven years, showing the lofty standards he holds himself to, Thomas admits that he’s not quite had the success he’d envisioned.

“I mean, I’m not where I feel like I should or want to be,” Thomas conceded. “My goal a couple years ago, I wanted to be at 20 wins by the time I turned 30. Obviously I’m not there, but there’s a lot of people and myself, or I also believe in myself that my best is yet to come and I feel like there’s a lot of great things ahead of me.

“So there’s no reason to look at it, looking backward doesn’t do me any good. I’m just trying to look forward and look at the things that I can continue to improve and keep working on the things that I feel like I’m doing well, because you never know. I mean, not that Rahm was in a slump by any means, but last year it seemed like he was kind of in a funk in terms of just being able to get it done. He was hitting great putts, they just weren’t going in, just kind of had one of those little sprees and then all of a sudden, bam, he has a chance to win every time he tees it up. All the great players go on those little spurts and I’m just waiting to go on my spurt again.”


Winless since capturing his second PGA Championship title at Southern Hills almost a year ago, Thomas’ struggles have been overshadowed by similar dips in form for Rory McIlroy and, in the latter half of last year, Scottie Scheffler, but takes inspiration from how Jon Rahm turned relative underperformance in the early part of last season into the kind of run that dreams are made of.

“Yeah,” he responded when asked if there’s a fine line between good and bad rounds, “I just feel like for the majority of the months this year I just, seems like basically every round I’m playing I shoot the highest score that I possibly can. It’s just, I mean, you just go on those sprees sometimes in golf. Over a long career you’re going to have, if you want to call them slumps, if you want to call them cold streaks or whatever, and you’re also going to have your hot streaks.

“Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t say Jon had a bad year last year, but knowing Jon and how competitive he is and knowing the caliber game he has and what he believes in himself, I’m sure he’s like, no, I wanted to win more. But playing with him during that, he was not very far off. It’s like so many good putts that were burning edges and lipping out. That’s kind of how I felt this year. Statistically maybe my putting isn’t very good, but I know I’m very close, I know it’s just — sometimes you just need a little momentum.

“Sometimes it takes one round or one week to just see some things go your way or see some things go in versus bouncing in a bunker, staying in the fairway or lipping in instead of lipping out and all of a sudden you get some momentum. Have a good week, have another good week and bam, you win just like that when three or four tournaments ago everyone’s talking about what’s wrong, what are you going to change or what are you going to do.”

Back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18 during the second-round deluge would prove costly as Thomas would miss the cut on the number at Augusta, with television images showing a clearly frustrated and forlorn figure as he waited to shake hands with his playing partners. When play was halted on Friday, he lay at -2 for the tournament, but would shoot six-over for the eight holes he’d play in the horrendous Saturday morning conditions.

“I would say that summed it up pretty well,” he said of his demeanour after he tapped in for his final bogey, “because I wasn’t at least at that stage in contention to win the tournament by any means, but what, in 20th place with 80 percent of the tournament left to play at that golf course, and how I felt like I was playing that week, I mean, I’d feel like I’d have a chance come Sunday.

“Obviously Jon played in the same exact conditions I did that Saturday morning, so I can’t fully use that, but I’m fairly confident if I wasn’t playing in freezing cold, wind and downpour that I would have fared a little bit better, but that’s just — that’s what I mean.

“Everybody out here can tell you that those shots that maybe land on the edge of the green when you’re not playing well, y’all have seen it, that ball that lands in the front bunker and you get up there and it’s plugged. That never happens when you’re 6 under through 16, but when you’re 1 over through 16, it seems like that thing’s always plugged.

“Yeah, I’ve essentially had a lot of plugged lies lately and I’m just ready for those things to come out of ’em and just start getting some good vibes and everything on the course.”

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