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Justin Thomas ready to defend at Oak Hill

Justin Thomas ready to defend at Oak Hill

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Justin Thomas enjoyed having a bookend Wanamaker Trophy on the dining room table of his rental house he shared with Kevin Kisner at the Charles Schwab Challenge last year, a week after winning the 2022 PGA Championship in a thrilling playoff. When he missed the cut, he flew to Louisville, where he grew up, and his friends were hosting a house party. They filled the famed silver trophy with beer and had a good-old time.

“It’s little stuff like that that’s fun, but unfortunately, we’ve been going through a move and it hasn’t been out and displayed,” Thomas said on Monday, where he will mount his defense at Oak Hill. “Hopefully we’ll have one to bring home and display.”

Thomas has failed to win since the PGA a year ago at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In late March, he dropped out of the top 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since August 2017, and enters the week ranked No. 13. He missed the cut at the Masters and for all intents and purpose hasn’t been in the thick of the battle to win since the RBC Canadian Open last June. Asked if he’s in a slump, he replied, “Right now? No. A couple weeks ago or a month ago, probably, yeah.”

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It’s a feeling that Thomas, who won 15 Tour titles, including the 2017 PGA Championship before turning 30 on April 23, is unfamiliar with and he’s determined to change it as soon as humanly possible.

“I’ve never felt so far and so close at the same time,” he said.

But he also believes in the old saying that learning from failures is what makes a man.

“I feel like I’ve had a great opportunity for a lot of learning the past, whatever, six months, couple months, this year,” he said.

Part of Thomas’s winner’s make up is he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. This year, that has included committing to a gluten-free diet for a year and dairy-free for six months. Recently, he added the AimPoint green-reading technique to his repertoire on the greens.

“I’ve always been someone that if I feel like something can improve, I’m gonna try something,” he said.

Thomas grew tired of burning edges on the greens and his putting woes were sinking into other parts of his game. How bad was it?

“I was almost trying to will the ball in the hole because I felt like I just couldn’t make it in reality,” he told Smylie Kaufman on The Smylie Show on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. “I played a couple times with…


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