NAPA, Calif. – For Justin Thomas, waiting to find out whether he’d receive a captain’s pick from U.S. skipper Zach Johnson for the Ryder Cup in Rome later this month caused numerous sleepless nights.
“It was brutal,” he said Wednesday during his pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Fortinet Championship. “I told Zach after the fact that I compared it to like if you had an ex-girlfriend that you were trying to find any excuse you could to reach out to them to get in contact, that’s pretty much how I felt like with Zach.”
With his spot secure, Thomas said he has nothing else to prove and he’s ready to get back to work – he hasn’t played since finishing 12th at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Aug. 6 – after a disappointing season by his high standards. Thomas, 30, finished 71st in the FedEx Cup regular season and failed to qualify for the Playoffs for the first time in his career.
As he prepared to make his sixth start at the Fortinet Championship and first since 2019, Thomas discussed some of the changes he’s made to his team – parting ways with putting coach John Graham – and clarified his father, Mike’s role going forward.
“We had gotten to a point where everything was fundamentally or mechanically or on the putting green was as good as it could get. Basically, what I told him was he can’t go out and make the putts for me, I have to figure that out, and that’s something only I can do,” Thomas said of Graham. “It’s something where I grew up just going out and practicing and hitting putts and figuring out how to get it in the hole. I didn’t necessarily care how it looked, all that mattered was getting the ball in the hole as fast as I can, and that’s more what I want to do. I know there’s a lot of really knowledgeable people out there, John included, that down the road if I feel like it gets to a point where I need to see somebody then I can, but the hope is that I don’t need to.”
Thomas learned the game from his father, a club pro in Louisville, Kentucky, and while Matt Killen at times has served as a second set of eyes, Mike has been his primary coach. Under his tutelage, Justin won 15 times on the PGA Tour, including two majors and reached world No. 1. His father…