In professional golf, there are varying levels of pressure. Once you’ve reached the very upper echelons of the PGA Tour like Justin Thomas has, job security and future financial security are afterthoughts and you get the luxury of worrying about a world ranking.
Of course, this is an enviable position to be in, but this past weekend at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Thomas admitted that even with those various securities, pressure can affect the way a world-class golfer plays.
The torrid pace JT has played at over the past 18 months has moved him into No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings trailing only Dustin Johnson. With DJ bowing out of the Match Play in the group stage and JT advancing to the final four, the 24-year-old Alabama product had the opportunity to take over the No. 1 ranking.
With a victory, Justin Thomas would move to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. The last three winners of the Dell Technologies Match Play have either been No. 1 in the world (Dustin Johnson/2017, Rory McIlroy/2015) or moved to No. 1 in the world by winning the event.
— Ron Mintz (@MintzGolf) March 24, 2018
That realization, coupled with some residual fatigue from playing five matches in four days, doomed Thomas in his Sunday matches against Kevin Kisner and Alex Noren.
“I haven’t had such a hard time not thinking about something so much. And that really sucked,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest. And I think you’re constantly getting questions about it with the media. But I need to be mentally stronger than that and understand that it’s just a match.”
“In the end, it might be a good thing going to Augusta without that [world No. 1]. I get to go do what I was going to do and let [current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson] have all that pressure,” Thomas told GolfChannel.com’s Steve Sands after his third-place match.
“For some reason, I’ll probably have more adrenaline and be more excited to get going out there. No matter how many times I play there, I always get so excited to go,” Thomas said. “I’ll have two productive days of work and hang out with some good friends and try to learn some new things about the course, go home and get some rest and get ready.”
Thomas enters the Masters as one of the betting favorites, going off at 10/1 with former No. 1 Tiger Woods and current No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Interesting company, to say the least.
2018 Masters updated
T Woods 10/1
D Johnson 10/1
J Thomas 10/1
R McIlroy 10/1
J Spieth 12/1
J Rose 12/1
B Watson 14/1
J Day 16/1
P Mickelson 16/1
R Fowler 18/1
J Rahm 18/1
S Garcia 25/1
P Casey 25/1
H Matsuyama 30/1
T Fleetwood 30/1
H Stenson 40/1
A Noren 40/1
P Reed 40/1
— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) March 26, 2018
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