Justin Thomas, light at the end of the tunnel



by ANDREA GUSSONI

Justin Thomas, light at the end of the tunnel

Justin Thomas' victory at the PGA Championship last year, at the end of the suspense in the play-off, against Will Zalatoris, was like a culmination, a consecration, five years after his very first Major, in 2017, already in a PGAChampionship.

A year later, the American is coming out of a difficult period. He has not won a single tournament on the PGA Tour. He even missed the cut at the Masters in April. But he assumes everything. He is better and feels ready to face the Oak Hill course.

He said it Monday at a press conference. Selected pieces.

Justin Thomas, situation

"On Saturday night, I absolutely had to change my way of seeing things before leaving the club, and Bones (Editor's note, Jim MacKay, his caddy) did a great job.

It was cold, it was late, I probably wasn't going to have a great practice session, because of the weather. I did not have the right state of mind and I had to leave having reset all the counters to zero, with a much more positive approach.

The question was no longer whether I was going to win the tournament or play -2 and finish 3rd or 4th. It all came out, I said it all, and Bones was like, "There's a lot of things we do well, you played great golf and you're still a great player.

A round of golf is not going to change that. “It worked well". “I convinced myself, and I told younger guys who asked me how you learn from your failures. I had the opportunity to learn a lot, for six months, a year.

And if I have to put things into perspective, I'm just thinking of Max Homa, with whom I played today. No other player in the world, at this level, has experienced what he has experienced. He got his card on the Tour, he lost it, then he managed to get it back and he became one of the best players in the world.

We talked together and no one can understand. He had to birdie on his last five holes, at Pumpkin Ridge, to enter the play-offs of the Korn Ferry Tour. So everything is relative, and the goal is to get the most out of any situation".

“I think I really showed encouraging signs in Charlotte (Editor’s note, during the Wells Fargo Championship, early May). For example, on Saturday, I had no success, I missed two easy putts, I hit a lot of really bad irons and wedges, I was not sharp enough.

But I still managed to make two birdies on the last four holes and finish my 3rd round under par, when it was a very difficult course. With Bones, we said to ourselves on the 18th green that this 70 was what I hadn't managed to do since the start of the year.

In Charlotte, I felt that I had passed a milestone, that I was going to be able to achieve better scores again. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “Yesterday (Sunday) I did the 18 holes with my wedges and my putter, I just hit chips and putts around the greens.

Today (Monday) I played the whole course and everything matches what I had heard. It's a hell of a test. It sounds a lot like Southern Hills last year. Everyone said, "I haven't played it since it was renovated. "I would answer:" I've never played it, period.

"Here this week, some are trying to learn the holes that have been redesigned, I'm just trying to learn the course, like a lot of other players. We are in the northeast and I like the courses in this region, they are a bit “old school”, with trees that force you to make choices.

If it weren't for the trees, we could hit anywhere. There, you will have to be smart, navigate to the right or left of the trees, sometimes. I also like the way the bunkers are cut, and the steep edges of the greens". “He is very positive, very encouraging.

He got to know me, he knows when I'm upset, or depressed by my game, and he's able to put his arm on my shoulder to tell me that I'm fine, that I'm playing well. I'm really lucky to have him with me because he makes things easier, and better, for me".

Justin Thomas