The Sweet Taste of Green

Justin Thomas.

Justin Thomas.

Justin Thomas graduated from St. X in 2011, and in 2014 he is making his debut as a card playing member on the PGA Tour. Thomas, who at 16, became the third youngest player to ever make the cut in a PGA Tour event, earned his card by finishing third on the money list on the Tour. He earned $481,270 in his first season. Thomas, who also won a National Championship at Alabama, picked up his first professional win in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio, on September 14. He will play in the Open, a PGA Tour event, this weekend in Napa, California.

KENT TAYLOR: I’m sure the goal was there, but did you surprise yourself with how quickly you were able to earn your PGA tour card?

JUSTIN THOMAS: It’s a big accomplishment for me when I turned pro early. I felt like that was my quickest way that I could out there, so I’m really excited.

TAYLOR: How many tournaments do you get in?

THOMAS: I’m not sure an exact number but I would guess something low 20’s to high 20’s. My play dictates what else I get into, so hopefully I can play well enough to get into Major’s or World Golf Championship events or The Player’s.

TAYLOR: When you see $480,000 and #3 on the money list on the Tour, what kind of reaction do you have?

THOMAS: It was nice but I think that, especially in the heat of the moment when I’m out there playing, I don’t really think about it. I’m just trying to win every tournament I’m in.

TAYLOR: How nervous were you standing over that final putt in Columbus, when you knew that if you make it, you’ll win?

THOMAS: I was probably more nervous in regulation with my putt. I had like a 15 to 20 footer and I didn’t even think it mattered. For some reason I was really nervous over it. I could barely get the ball down to line it up. That last one was like a 2 1/2 footer, dead straight, so I just needed to hit it and keep it on line to go in. It was a cool feeling.

TAYLOR: Was that approach to the playoff hole, as good a shot as you ever remember hitting?

THOMAS: It was definitely up there. It was a perfect yardage for me, with the wind and where I had to land it. I had to land it about 70 yards and that’s a really comfortable shot for me with a 60 degree. The greens, being as firm as they were and I had hit a similar shot in regulation, just about 15-20 yards farther. I had a pretty good idea what I was going to do, so I just had to execute.

TAYLOR: All the stars aligned for that tournament, with your dad driving up, your mom there, what did it mean to have your family with you to celebrate your first professional win?

THOMAS: It’s cool, especially my grandparents being there. They’ve watched me play at all levels, from junior to college to amateur and now a professional. It was cool for them to be there and for my dad, not being able to come to too many events, it was cool to have all of them there.

TAYLOR: How big of a change is moving south, becoming a Florida resident, which should be a tax advantage, right?

THOMAS: Yeah, it definitely doesn’t hurt. I’m excited, I’m looking forward to no more cold weather. I’m pretty over the snow and having to wear four layers when you go outside. There is a great group of guys down there, and I have two really great roommates and I’ll get to play a sweet course, in The Bear’s Club. It’s a great opportunity for me to get better and play around some great players, just like I did in college.

TAYLOR: What tournament would you say that you are most looking forward to playing on the PGA Tour?

THOMAS: Just as a normal tournament, although I played in it last year, The Memorial was unbelievable. I was fortunate that the win in Columbus gets me into that again. That course was unbelievable, the food was awesome and the milkshakes were really good inside the clubhouse. I’m looking forward to getting back to that one and then hopefully the Major’s will come with it as well.

TAYLOR: Are all the pros excited about the milkshakes at a tournament?

THOMAS: Honestly, yeah. Everyone told me about the milkshakes before I even got there. That was the first thing they said and they were unbelievable. It’s Columbus in early June, it’s really hot and humid, and when you get done you’re ready. There’s always a wait of 5-10 people in line, but they’re the real deal.

TAYLOR: What is it about them?

THOMAS: I don’t know. Maybe it’s all the hype. They have a milkshake called “The Buckeye,” it’s peanut butter, chocolate, stuff like that.