Justin Thomas has endured a difficult PGA Tour season, one of the worst in recent memory – if not his entire professional career.
But after making the U.S. Ryder Cup team thanks to one of Zach Johnson’s captain’s picks, Thomas isn’t too stressed ahead of this week’s Fortinet Championship in Northern California.
“After being selected, I don’t have anything to prove,” Thomas said Wednesday in Napa, California. “It’s just more about me being here to play well in a golf tournament and play well and try to give myself a chance and get into contention.
“I mean, I know if I don’t compete for two or three weeks I get a little rusty, so I’m sure getting back into competition after a month and a half will be a challenge, but it is something I’m looking forward to… I’ve already put enough pressure on myself to try and play well. I don’t need to add anything to advance the season or play well for the Ryder Cup or anything like that.”
Thomas’ most recent win came at the 2022 PGA Championship. Last Tour season, Thomas only achieved three top-10 finishes and narrowly missed out on a place in the FedExCup Playoffs. He also missed the cut in three of the four major championships, reaching a combined 41-over in those events. He also shot at majors twice in the 1980s.
He finished last season at No. 26 in the Official World Golf Ranking – which, while still a respectable position, was his worst finish since 2016. He enters this week at number 24.
Thomas, who has competed in two previous Ryder Cups and has a 6-2-1 record in the event, was one of Johnson’s favorites to captain.
“When Zach called, it was a lot of emotions, but relief was almost the first thing — and excitement,” Thomas said. “It was a lot. I had a lot of sleepless nights and at some point it finally dawned on me. I had accepted the fact that whatever was going to happen, and I was okay with that. And I would support her no matter what. I’m just really excited and happy and fortunate that it ended like this.”
Johnson and the rest of the U.S. team will return to Rome later this month for the Ryder Cup, which they have not won on European soil since 1993. This week’s tournament marks the start of the Tour’s fall swing before it returns to a calendar-year schedule in January is more of a warm-up for Johnson and Max Homa – the only two team members in the field.
Thomas is trying to get back into the swing of things after making some changes to his game, including parting ways with his longtime putting coach and trying to rely less on his father as his sole swing coach. He said he’s trying to take control of his game again and he doesn’t think his play is as bad as it seemed at times throughout the year.
“I truly believe I’m not as far away as I think I am,” Thomas said. “All it takes is a week, a stretch, whatever you want to call it, that could completely turn everything around and no one talks about it or remembers it anymore.”