Interview With Justin Thomas (Quarterfinals)

August 17, 2012

PETE KOWALSKI:  We're going to thank our next semifinalist for his patience.  We've got the last of our semifinalists just by timing, Justin Thomas from Goshen, Kentucky, who's a winner in his semifinal match.  Justin, tell us about the emotions of a toughly finished matched.  You won 1‑up on the 18th.  Tell us what you thought was most significant in that match.

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Well, it was pretty back and forth.  He got up early, and then I won 7, 8 and 9, so that kind of gave me the momentum.  I think a big momentum shift was he hit it on the green in two on 11.  He three‑putted for par, and I had a nice up‑and‑down for birdie there, and that just kind of kept me going a little bit.

Yeah, I mean, it was a hard match.  You're obviously not going to get any easy matches most likely at this point in the U.S. Amateur.  It feels great to be moving on, and I'm very, very honored.

Q.  Could you give us some detail on that up‑and‑down on 11?

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Yeah, I just hit it right in front of the green.  I probably had 60 or 70 feet of green to work with, and I just hit a 52‑degree, just kind of tried to skip it, let it run out and leave it below the hole, and I left it about eight feet below the hole.  I kind of had a putt like that twice yesterday.  Obviously it's a different hole location, different angle and everything, but it was the same idea, it was just outside the right edge or extreme right edge, and I hit that putt well, and that was a big putt to make for sure.

Q.  The last three matches you've been 2‑down early.  What are your thoughts when you get to 2‑down even though there's a lot of holes still to play?  What kind of goes through your mind heading down the stretch?

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Well, I mean, it's good to know that I've done it before, but at the same time it would be a lot nicer if I wasn't 2‑down; I wouldn't have to deal with that.  But I've had a hard time getting off to a hot start, so hopefully tomorrow and if I'm fortunate enough hopefully on Sunday I can get off to a little better starts and I don't have to worry about that.

Q.  You probably don't want me bringing this up, but what happened on 17?

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Well, I missed the fairway with a 4‑iron, and I just got ‑‑ it was an awful lie in the rough to where I couldn't hit it past the next cross bunkers, so I kind of had to hit it in the gap.  I hit it there, and I had ‑‑ we had 171 to the hole ‑‑ no, no, it was like 171 hole or something like that.  And after I hit and he laid up, we didn't know where he was, and I thought I saw a spotter kind of run over to the left, and I just asked, where is that ball, because I wanted to know, and someone was like, oh, it's over in the right side of the fairway.  So I'm figuring, okay, he's going to have a good chance at birdie.  Knowing that he would have been in that fairway bunker would have been nice because then I could have just blown it to the back of the green instead of having to try to give myself a reasonable putt.  But still, the fact that I hit a 9‑iron into the hazard is still pretty poor course management by myself.

Yeah, it just plugged in the water, and then I had to go to the drop zone, and he hit it close.  I couldn't just hit it to 20 feet, I wanted to give myself a reasonable putt, and then I went ahead and chipped that one in the water for a nice 8.

Q.  But you responded well, like you said before, responded well to being down, and ‑‑ well, you weren't down but you lost the hole.  Tell us about 18, as well.

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Yeah, well, like I had in an interview earlier, he said, what's that feeling on 18.  I said, I knew I was in a lot better position than he was; I was 1‑up instead of 1‑down on that hole.  Although it's very intimidating and very difficult, he has to win the hole, and I don't have to win the hole, I just need to play smart.  Most likely 4 is going to win or tie that hole, especially with that front pin.  It's just basically impossible to get close to.

Yeah, I mean, it was a good tee shot down the flat, and just came out of my iron shot, hit a cut when I was trying to hit a draw, but that chip was awesome.  It was a cool feeling.  It just was kind of ‑‑ I was nervous, but it was a good kind of nervous, and it was really cool to pull that off.

Q.  Does it surprise you as a guy who's highly ranked to see guys like Pan and Chris Williams lose when they're so highly ranked, as well?

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Yeah, I guess so, but at the same time, not to be rude, but I could honestly care less.  It's not my match.  I'm just worried about who I'm playing and what I'm going to do shot by shot.

Q.  Speaking of which, do you know Michael Weaver well or at all?

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Yeah, I know him just from college stuff.

Q.  Played much at all head‑to‑head or ‑‑

JUSTIN THOMAS:  I mean, I've never played with him.  I've played tournaments with him, but not that I can remember.

Q.  You've had success in USGA championships before, and now you're a semifinalist.  How do you control what you need to do without getting too far ahead of yourself?

JUSTIN THOMAS:  Well, it's the same thing as the first round match.  You can't get ahead of yourself and can't think about anything that could happen in the future.  It doesn't matter if it's to get in the finals or if it's to get into the second round.  You've got to just try to beat that person you're playing and just try to play smart but aggressive at the same time.  Just got to try to win more holes than the other guy so you can keep on moving on.

PETE KOWALSKI:  Well played.  Congratulations.  Thanks for your time.

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