Justin Thomas isn't your average Ryder Cup rookie at Le Golf National

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Justin Thomas isn't your average Ryder Cup rookie at Le Golf National

PGA Tour

Justin Thomas isn't your average Ryder Cup rookie at Le Golf National

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Justin Thomas is a Ryder Cup rookie in name, but this isn’t his first rodeo.

He has nine wins and a major at age 25 and helped the U.S. in its blowout Presidents Cup victory last year. It seems like he’s been a staple on Tour for much longer than two years. And while it’s true he’s never played in a Ryder Cup, he has a pretty good idea of what to expect.

“I’ve seen it from the other side of the ropes and I’m very, very happy and excited to be on this side of the ropes,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Thomas was 11 when he went to his first Ryder Cup with his dad in 2004, at Oakland Hills. He was in the house in his home state of Kentucky for the 2008 matches at Valhalla. And he played in the 2010 Junior Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.

Seeing and doing are obviously very different, and he has as much to prove as any other rookie with the U.S. squad looking to end its 25-year road losing streak.

Thomas said keeping his emotions in check is going to be the key factor, a fine line he’s never had to navigate on this stage. As for what to expect, Thomas wants to keep it simple.

“I’m trying not to overthink it,” Thomas said. “I think it’s so easy to do in not only golf but in match play. It’s easy to overthink the pairings. So easy to overthink the odds or the events or what hole do you want to go first on. But at the end of the day it’s like, look, if we play better golf than they do, we’re probably going to win.”

Thomas played with long-time buddy Jordan Spieth for Wednesday’s alternate shot practice session and was comfortable enough to talk some trash. Tiger Woods had already hit a decent tee shot into the par-3 16th hole when Thomas stepped up and hit a soaring iron on a good line toward the flag.

“Right in Tiger’s … EYEBALL,” he shouted as it fell toward the green.

Thomas epitomizes the current bomb-and-gauge style of play on Tour but will have to adjust due to some seriously thick rough and tight fairways at Le Golf National. He said this track reminds him a lot of TPC Sawgrass in that it doesn’t favor one style of play. It’s largely a second-shot golf course and rewards the best all-around game.

That’s a good sign since he’s finished inside the top 25 in three of four Players Championship starts, including a T-3 in 2016.

“A lot of Ryder Cups, you’ve just kind of been able to bomb it and drive it, at least in America for sure,” Thomas said. “You can hit it up there and even if you’re in the rough you can get it on the green. But this course takes driver out of your hands for everybody.”

Thomas has been dealing with tendinitis in his right wrist over the past few weeks and wore KT tape wrapped in additional white athletic tape on Wednesday. It was wrapped the same way for last week’s T-7 finish at the Tour Championship and Thomas insists it’s not a big deal. More of a preventative measure then anything.

Adrenalin is always a good temporary fix for lingering injuries and there will be a ton of that when Thomas finally gets thrown into the mix for the first time in his career. He confirmed as much when asked if he’s feeling good enough to potentially play five matches in three days during his long-awaited Ryder Cup debut.

“I’d play six if I could,” Thomas said.

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