No doubting Thomas after stellar 2017

Jan 1, 2018 - 6:32 AM Justin Thomas won in October for the second consecutive year, and he hopes it kicks-starts another big season.

After capturing the 2016 CIMB Classic, Thomas went on to win five times and wound up as the 2017 PGA Tour Player of the Year. He took home the FedExCup in addition to rising to No. 3 in the World Golf Ranking.

"Winning is fun," said Thomas, who will start 2018 this week by defending his title in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, and also will be the defender next week at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

"Racking up trophies is fun. Beating everybody is fun. I just want to beat everybody."

Thomas claimed his first major victory in the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow last August, then won the Dell Technologies Championship and finished second in the Tour Championship during the playoffs. He also won the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in South Korea early in the 2017-18 season.

Then he admitted he was out of gas and looking forward to his offseason, but now he is ready to go again.

"It's been a nice offseason, but over the last week or so, I've been starting to get a little hungry and ready to get back out there," Thomas said recently. "I think the hardest part is going to be staying in the moment and recognizing that it's a new year. It's a new opportunity for great things."

Thomas rolled through the two Hawaii events last season, playing 144 holes in 49 under par. He won the opener at Kapalua by three strokes over Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, then coasted to a seven-stroke victory over Justin Rose of England at Waialae.

The dominant run was highlighted by an 11-under-par 59 in the first round of the Sony Open.

"I'm just really excited," Thomas said of starting the year in the winners-only tournament on Maui. "I hope that that is my first tournament of the year for the rest of my career. I think it's well-known by everybody how much we all love it. It's just a great way to kind of, not ease into the year, but get the year going because of how relaxing it is.

"The course is great. You know, there's obviously some great places to eat. And who doesn't like being in Hawaii?"

Thomas, 24, is smart enough to know it won't be easy to deal with his new-found fame and success, even if he is able to replicate his breakthrough season.

So he said late last year that he planned to talk with the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and even his pal Jordan Spieth looking for advice. In the end, it is up to him, however, and he will take last season with him.

"I know I'm constantly going to get reminded of what I did last year versus this year, and whether it's better or whether it's worse," said Thomas, whose only PGA Tour victory before last season came in the 2015 CIMB Classic, where he won again the next year. "I think the hardest part is going to be staying in the moment and recognizing that it's a new year. It's a new opportunity for great things."

After turning pro late in 2013, Thomas watched his buddy Spieth become one of the best players in the world, especially in 2015, when Spieth won five times including the Masters, the U.S. Open and the Tour Championship to take the FedExCup.

Thomas admitted that made him a little jealous but also motivated him, leading to something of a friendly rivalry between the two.

"I feel like we're a very similar caliber of player, and I just got a couple years of experience head start," said Spieth, who has won five more times since his huge year in 2015, including three times last year. He is ranked No. 2 in the world.

"You want to get yourself in those positions (to win tournaments), and you learn a lot from wins and losses. Obviously, he's become a tremendous closer."

If Thomas and Spieth could become a reasonable facsimile of Jack and Arnie or Tiger and Phil, it would be a win-win situation for golf.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!