NAPA, Calif. – Count Justin Thomas as one of the PGA Tour pros who likes to set goals at the start of the season. Just don’t ask him to share them publicly.
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” he said with a smirk.
Thomas is making his season debut this week at the Safeway Open, the third tournament on the PGA Tour’s 2019-20 wrap-around schedule. Over the past few seasons, he has been tight-lipped about his goals before revealing on social media how he did in achieving them at season’s end. As Thomas explained, he once spouted off a few lofty goals he’d set for himself to members of the press only to be constantly reminded of his shortcomings for the remainder of the year.
“Rookie mistake,” he said. “After that I keep them to myself. They are in my phone so if anyone ever steals my phone and guesses my password they can find them.”
Thomas, 26, is embarking on his sixth season on Tour and is just six weeks removed from shooting 11-under 61 in the third round of the BMW Championship en route to claiming his 10th PGA Tour title. He’s already won a major championship, reached World No. 1, played on Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams and captured the 2017 FedEx Cup. He’s more than lived up to the hype, but is coming off a season in which he was sidelined for six weeks with an injured right wrist and missed the PGA Championship in May. When Thomas sat at his kitchen table recently and analyzed his stats from the previous season, he couldn’t decide whether to grade his play a B- or a C+.
“The reason I would say kind of B- is because I played really, really well I felt like last year tee to green. I mean, it was probably the best year I’ve had,” he said. “But the reason I give it a C-plus is I only won once and I was injured and missed three events that I feel like I had a really good chance to win, one being a major.”
Thomas had plenty of free time to contemplate this season’s goals as he recovered from a melanoma scare. Given the amount of time he spends in the sun, Thomas went to a dermatologist for a routine screening and had a mole on his right leg shaved off for further examination.
“Anytime you get a text from your doctor after hours telling you to call him is usually not a good thing,” said Thomas, who underwent surgery on Sept. 9. “It was roughly an inch or two, probably two inches deep, kind of like cutting in the shape of a football, a skinny football.”
Now, Thomas is motivated to make birdies. He made an undisclosed donation to Convoy of Hope’s efforts to deliver help to those affected by Hurricane Dorian, and pledged $1,000 per birdie for the remainder of his 2019 season, calling The Bahamas “his happy place.”
Silverado Resort & Spa’s North Course has treated him well, too. He’s recorded top-10 finishes in his previous two appearances in the event and prepped for Thursday’s opening round by playing in the pro-am with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who is competing this week as a sponsor exemption. As for his goals, Thomas typed out his new list on his flight here on Monday. And while mum may be the word from Thomas, Matt Killen, Thomas’ putting coach, offered this hint.
“He wants to live at No. 1,” Killen said. “He’s got a relentless pursuit of perfection and wants to be great. If anything, he’s working harder than ever, which is quite impressive for someone so young who has already had so much success.”