There is little negative that can be said about Justin Thomas on the team-play stage. He formed an incredible team with Jordan Spieth at the 2018 Ryder Cup, a tandem that is very likely to be seen again, and then winning his Sunday singles match against a very difficult opponent in Rory McIlroy.
Even without Spieth, he was tremendous teaming up with Tiger Woods at the most recent Ryder Cup, earning 3.5 points for his winning side, the most of anyone on the American team.
The former Alabama star sat down with the media on Tuesday and took some questions. Here are four we liked most.
1.) Ryder Cup First Tee
Question: You mentioned how nerve-racking that first tee can be. Curious when the nerves hit you. Does it hit you when you reach the tee, when you’re walking to the tee, when you’re warming up? When does it actually arrive?
JUSTIN THOMAS: For me it was walking to the tee. France had just an absolutely absurd setup there on the first tee, and there was a pretty big bridge I think that kind of went from the chipping green that would go over, that would come kind of right down to the left of the first tee and walk on.
Jordan was great with me because it being my first match and him playing a couple, he’d been in my shoes before and he probably knew the things I was feeling.
I remember it like it was yesterday. We were walking across the bridge and it was four-ball the first match, and we talked about — four-ball is pretty kind of lenient on who goes first, who doesn’t, but he was just like, Do you want to go first or me, and I was like, I’m going, and he’s like, You got it.
He understood that. He’s like, You need to do what you’re comfortable with in this moment, and he knew it was going to take a couple holes for me to settle in and I rode my horse until I finally got comfortable.
But it is, it’s a bizarre feeling that’s hard to explain, but I’m pretty excited to experience it again in a couple days.
2.) Pairing With Jordan Spieth
Question: How stoked are you to potentially again reunite with Jordan in a pairing, and if something were to prompt Captain Stricker to have to break that up, would you be receptive to that idea?
JUSTIN THOMAS: I’m receptive for whatever is best for the team. If it means that Jordan and I play every match together, if it means that we split up, everybody is on board with what is best for the team, and I think that’s what is most important.
You’re going to — that’s the thing; yeah, on paper it’s pretty easy to just put matches out, we’ve got these teams, we’ve got these four teams, we’ve got these four teams, but things change. Guys, maybe something happens, maybe they tweak something or they’re just not playing good or they’re tired or one guy wants to go, whatever it might be.
Things change. I think that’s something that Strick has the ability to do, and he’s such a great captain that he’s able to adapt on the run.
I’m very excited to have the opportunity to play with Jordan because he’s obviously a great buddy of mine and we get along so well, but I think we understand each other’s games well to know when we’re needed, when we’re not needed, and pretty much just stay out of each other’s way, because we’re both pretty good players and hopefully can go get some points for us this week.
3.) Ryder Cup Fans
Question: The Ryder Cup could have likely been played last year, but that would have meant without fans. What does it mean to have the fans here this week, and what role do they play in this event?
JUSTIN THOMAS: They play a huge role. Like I said, I haven’t experienced one on U.S. soil, but I’m very excited to. I think all of us partook in a little bit of a — I guess a poll last year on how we would want — if the Ryder Cup was to happen, how we would want it. Would we rather play it with no fans, would we rather play it with half fans, or just cancel it. My number one answer was play it with full fans or nothing else.
It’s a huge advantage to play in front of your home crowd, and it’s also what makes the event so special. It would have been a shame to play this without fans or even with very, very limited fans. This is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, and it’s a huge deal for the PGA. It’s a big deal for us.
I think they did the right thing in pushing it back a year to make sure that not only us players, but everybody could experience this for what it’s worth.
4. Tiger Woods
Question: Knowing you’re close with Tiger, Stricker has made it clear that even though he’s not here, he’s still a part of the team. Just curious if you’ve spoken to him and what his message has been for you guys this week.
JUSTIN THOMAS: Yeah, I mean, I got together with him a couple times last week. More so just going over to see how he’s doing as a friend, more than as a vice captain or if he’s even still considered that. I don’t know.
Yeah, he’s so into it. He obviously wants the best for our team. He wants the best for all of us. It means a lot to him.
I think people would be surprised — obviously you all saw in Australia how much it meant to him, but just the amount of work and the amount of hours he’s willing to spend to make sure that he feels like the team is prepared and as ready to go as possible is pretty cool.
At the end of the day he also understands that we’re 12 of the best players in the world, and we know how to play golf. Sometimes less is more, so I think he’s great at balancing that out.
It was more, I’m here if you need me kind of thing.