Justin Thomas Talks PGA Tour's Return, Home Workouts and More in B/R ExclusiveMay 14, 2020
Justin Thomas misses the thrill of victory.
"I'm just excited to have a chance to try to win a golf tournament again," he told Bleacher Report when asked what he's missed the most while the PGA Tour is on hiatus because of COVID-19 concerns.
"I'm just excited to compete again and have a chance to win a golf tournament and try to add to my win column," he said. "That's the reason I play, and that's what I miss the most."
In fact, Thomas is so competitive he's found it hard to motivate himself to play any golf at all without the chance to lift a trophy. Instead, he's worked out in his backyard four or five days a week in an effort to take advantage of this rare time off during what would normally be the heart of the golf season.
"It's hard to feel like I'm going out and practicing when I'm not playing competitively for so long," he said. "I just feel, like, why go out and practice and grind when it's something I'm going to have to maintain for so long. So I've been taking this time to really rest and train a lot and get my body in the best shape that I can."
A rejuvenated Thomas could mean trouble for the rest of the PGA Tour.
After all, he has 12 career PGA Tour titles and won the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year with five victories that year, including the PGA Championship for his first major championship. He was also playing well before the season was put on hold with wins at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges and Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Thomas, who also has top-10 finishes at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship, Waste Management Phoenix Open, Hero World Challenge and Safeway Open this season, is ranked No. 4 in the Official World Golf Rankings behind only Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka.
He will have the opportunity to add to that total when the PGA Tour returns for the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, from June 11-14, and he isn't worried the sport is rushing back too quickly.
"I know that the Tour wouldn't be starting unless they felt everything was fine and players, caddies, the staff and everybody involved would be safe," he said. "I have no problems at all with their decisions."
Bob Harig of ESPN noted the PGA Tour sent its players a 37-page memo outlining the plan to return and the various safety measures it will put in place in an effort to create a "bubble" environment.
Fans will not be present for at least the first four tournaments after golf returns, and players and caddies will have charter flights between the events. What's more, they will take nasal swab/saliva tests when they arrive for a tournament and be subjected to daily questionnaires and screenings.
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be quarantined and no longer allowed to compete in a tournament, while anyone who tests positive after they make the 36-hole cut will be paid last-place money.
The PGA also emphasized it "will not take away resources from the community" and will make sure not to leave front-line workers without the supplies they need.
While Thomas trusts the official decisions and has no concerns about returning to the course, he acknowledged "it will definitely be weird without fans. I'm very curious to see how it will feel if you have the chance to win a tournament coming down the last couple of holes what the nerves will feel like. I feel like the fans and just the buzz and the roars and everything is kind of what makes it, so we'll see."
He admitted he is "bummed" there won't be spectators in the immediate future but would "obviously … rather play without fans than not play at all."
Although fans will not have the opportunity to connect with Thomas at the course when golf returns, they will have the chance to compete against the virtual version of the 27-year-old when PGA Tour 2K21 is released on Aug. 21.
Thomas is the cover star of the game that will feature 15 licensed PGA Tour courses and 12 players who gamers can compete against as they build their own virtual careers.
"I've worked very hard to accomplish everything that I have in golf, but this is something that doesn't come with a trophy or earnings or whatever it might be," he said. "But I'll always have that cover to remember the rest of my life. So it's awesome."
It will also be one more thing Thomas can compete in as he looks to continue climbing the PGA Tour rankings and building on his early success.