LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Justin Thomas spent much of his youth joyously hitting balls and rolling putts at Harmony Landing Country Club where his dad Mike was and is the Head Golf Professional, winning tournaments and trophies nearly as big as he was, dreaming of one day playing on the PGA Tour. Now at age 22, he is living that dream.
I got to spend most of Wednesday with both Thomases as Justin prepared for the John Deere Classic by playing in the Pro-Am. He is playing more and more Wednesday Pro-Ams, a sign that his work Thursday through Sunday is getting noticed.
Thomas won well over 100 tournaments as an amateur and was named college player of the year as a Freshman at Alabama. He turned pro after his Sophomore season and advanced through the Web.com Tour to a spot with the best players in the world.
By most measurements, the St. X graduate's rookie season on the PGA Tour has been a great success. He's had five top tens and is 53rd in the FedEx Cup Point Standings. He's secured his card for next season, is in the top 100 in the world rankings and has earned over 1.4 million dollars. But Thomas has never been easily satisfied.
"I've always set high expectations for myself," said Justin. "I got off to a good start, but have been pretty lackluster since then I thnk. I'm very close though, I'm thinking. I'm playing well, just not finishing those rounds. My bad rounds need to get a little better."
"Most of the issues he deals with has to do with pushing too hard," said Mike. "That's what makes these guys good is they push themselves hard. The downside is when you push hard and don't meet expectations, you get impatient. Trying to stay patient and learning from your mistakes is kind of the key message the last few months."
That patience was severely tested last week at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia. Justin emerged from a pack of players to grab the lead by himself after a birdie on the 8th hole. He lost eight shots and 53 spots to the field in the final ten holes. But he told me it wouldn't be hard to get over that Sunday collapse.
"I took a lot more positives than negatives," said Justin. "I played sixty-nine great holes and could have easily won the tournament. I have to think about what happened and I have a good idea what it was."
Thomas certainly didn't seem bothered by what might have been when he opened the John Deere Thursday with ten birdies and two bogeys for an eight-under 63 and a share of the first round lead.
"He's done well every time he's taken a leap," said Mike. "When he went from State Junior Golf to National Junior Golf, from National Junior Golf to College, from College to Web.com, you know every time he's made that leap, he's succeeded. There's no reason to think that wouldn't continue."
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