Player Diary: Alabama's Justin Thomas (Part 12)
Sorry it has been so long since my last blog. It has been pretty hectic the last couple of weeks. But what a couple of weeks it has been!
Two weeks ago we were fortunate enough to play for the National Championship in Atlanta. We were all very excited and confident going into the week. Everybody had made a big deal with last year and us losing to Texas in the finals, and how we were going to come back or use that to help us. We completely put that in the past, and fought to get a chance to win a national title.
In the stroke-play portion of the tournament, we just didn't play our best golf. We played solid though, to finish T-3 and place third for match play. This year with nationals being in Atlanta, we had so many fans out there. Last year at Riviera, we were so out numbered in fans and it's hard to get momentum with the other teams fans so loud. This year, we had that advantage.
Our first round match up was against New Mexico, one of three teams that could say: they beat California in a tournament this year. They are a very strong team led by first team All-American James Erkenbeck. We played very well as were able to beat New Mexico 4-1 and move on to the next round against host team Georgia Tech.
Again, Tech was a very tough opponent who knew the course extremely well. We knew we would need to bring it again to beat them. It was very close all day as we were able to close out some of the tight matches to move onto the finals for the second consecutive year, to play Illinois.
It was a surreal feeling, getting back to the finals again. Really exciting and extremely hard to do, I was just happy to be apart of it. The crowds were huge, as we were all so jacked up and ready to play that morning. The feeling of that first tee shot in the finals is something I haven't experienced anywhere else; my whole body went numb. The roars were everywhere as we played a day of really good golf. While Bobby Wyatt was able to close his match out 6&5 and Cory Whitsett winning his match by a good margin that meant we needed to close one of the three other matches for victory. I was down all day as I was able to fight back and get it to even with 3 holes left. Trey was all square thru 17, and Scott Strohmeyer's match was tight as well thru about 12/13 holes. While I was in 17 fairway, Trey made a 2.5 footer to win his match 1 up, which meant if Cory could finish his match (4 up with 4 to play), or Scott (3 up with 3 to play) we would win the national championship. I was in 18 fairway when I heard the roars, and the official said "it's over, Alabama has won", something I will never forget. Thomas Pieters and I just ended the match after our 2nd shots, and I dropped my bag and just ran to the team. I found Trey Mullinax half way, and just jumped into his arms for a hug. It was one of the most unbelievable feelings I've ever experienced. For us to come back one year later from being so close to winning it all, and do what we did this year just shows the drive and determination our team had. It couldn't have been a better way for our team captain, and my roommate, Strohmeyer (Strobe) to end his college career.
I want to say thank you to all the Alabama fans who came and cheered us on, little do they know how big it helped us out and how much we appreciated it! I want to say congrats to fellow blogger and good friend Max Homa, who won the individual portion of nationals. I also want to recognize Cal for one of the most unbelievable seasons of all time. They did things no team has ever done or may ever do again. It was unfortunate we could not play them in the finals to get another 1 vs 2 matchup, but they had a great season and shouldn't hang their heads for any reason at all. Congrats on an unforgettable season guys!
As for myself, I play in the Travelers this week, which I am very excited about. I was very fortunate to get an exemption, and can't wait for the opportunity!