CRAWFORD | Rare air: Justin Thomas climbs to No. 1 in the world
Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., who played his high school golf at St. Xavier in Louisville, has become just the seventh American golfer ever to climb to No. 1 in the world.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When you can stop for a moment, survey the landscape and realize that you are acknowledged as No. 1 in the world at what you do, well, that’s something very few people are ever able to do.
Today, Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky., and St. Xavier High School in Louisville can do just that.
He finished 11th in The Players Championship on Sunday with a 6-under round of 66 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. It was his 10th top-20 finish in 13 PGA Tour events this season, and sent him past Dustin Johnson, who had held the world’s top spot for 64 weeks.
Here’s the magnitude of feat Johnson has accomplished: Only six Americans before him have risen to No. 1 in the world. The list: Tiger Woods (683 weeks), Johnson (64 weeks), Jordan Speith (26 weeks), Fred Couples (16 weeks), David Duval (15 weeks) and Tom Lehman (one week).
Johnson’s 64-week run was the fourth longest ever.
Thomas is the fourth-youngest player ever to reach No. 1, behind Woods, Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
“It means a lot, but it's something I want to have for a long time," Thomas told reporters after his round. "It's not something I just want to have once. Like D.J. has and like Tiger did and other guys who have had it for a long time, that's more of a goal of mine as opposed to just having it."
Thomas finished his round while Johnson still had nine holes to play, but all anyone wanted to ask him about was the No. 1 ranking – even if it wasn’t officially in the bag yet. Thomas said he had one immediate goal – and it wasn’t booking a celebratory dinner in Jacksonville.
“No, no. I'm going home,” he said. “I haven't been home in three and a half weeks, so my mom and dad are going to come home with me and just go hang out and probably shoot a lot of pool.”
As for the long term, Thomas said he’d like to make his stay at No. 1 last a while.
“It's important, but like I said, it's not something where it's like I just want to do it once,” he said. “I want to do it for a really, really long time. I want to have it for a really long time because that means I'm playing better than everybody else for an extended period of time as opposed to . . . (getting) hot for a year, couple years or two years or something, have it and then fall off the map. That doesn't really mean a whole lot to me. I would much rather continue to play well for another eight to ten years, five to ten years and see how long I can have it.”
Thomas’ rise began in October of 2016 when he won the first of seven tour victories in the span of 32 tournaments, including his first Major – the 2017 PGA Championship. He’ll now take a couple of weeks off – and Spieth, who has risen to No. 3 in the world, could overtake him by playing in the next couple of weeks. Thomas plans to return to action at The Memorial Tournament, May 31 to June 3, at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
At the moment, though, Thomas can – and should – celebrate reaching No. 1. It’s not a bad Mother’s Day gift for his mother, Jani – a chance to say her son is the best in the world, and has the statistics to prove it.
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