Justin Thomas is coming off a difficult season on the PGA Tour, 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 I’m elected, I don’t have anything to prove,” Thomas said Wednesday in Napa, California. “It’s more about me being here to play and play well in a golf tournament and try to give myself a chance and get into contention.
“I mean, I know I get a little rusty not competing for two or three weeks, so I’m sure getting back into competition after a month and a half will be a challenge, but “It is something I’m excited about… I’m already excited.” I’ve pushed enough to try and play well, I don’t need to add more to try to boost the season or be good for the Ryder Cup or something to play.”
Thomas’ most recent win came at the 2022 PGA Championship. Last Tour season, Thomas achieved just 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 total of 41 more in those events. He also pitched twice in the major leagues 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 captain’s picks for the event.
“When Zach called, there were a lot of emotions, but the first one was almost relief and excitement,” Thomas said. “It was too much. I spent a lot of sleepless nights and at some point it finally hit me. I had accepted the fact that whatever was going to happen and I was okay with it. And I would support him no matter what . “I’m very excited, happy and fortunate that it ended this way.”
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 in California, which kicks off the fall tour before returning to a calendar year in January, is more of a warm-up for Johnson and Max Homa, who are the only team members on the field.
Thomas is trying to get back into the swing of things after making some changes to his game. This included parting ways with his previous putting coach and trying to rely less on his father as the 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 all year.
“I have great confidence and I’m not as far off as I think I am,” Thomas said. “All it takes is a week, a track, whatever you want to call it, it could completely change everything and no one talks about it or remembers it anymore.”