Fresh off 11th win, Justin Thomas insists there's room to improve

Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

Fresh off 11th win, Justin Thomas insists there's room to improve

PGA Tour

Fresh off 11th win, Justin Thomas insists there's room to improve

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CHIBA, Japan – With his victory in last week’s CJ Cup, Justin Thomas joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth as the only players in the past 60 seasons to win 11 times on the PGA Tour before turning 27.

Thomas, whose first Tour title came in the 2015 CIMB Classic, has won 10 times since the start of the 2016-17 season, the most on the PGA Tour.

The former world No. 1 and 2017 PGA Championship and FedExCup champion is ranked No. 4 in the world.

Elite indeed.

But Thomas is the first to tell you there’s room for improvement. That’s not good news for the rest of the golf world.

“I can always improve and I think that’s what’s so fun about this game and frustrating about the game,” Thomas said after his pro-am round ahead of Thursday’s start in the Zozo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

“I’m not searching to become perfect because I know that that’s not possible, but I am a perfectionist, so that kind of contradicts itself. But I’m always working to get a little bit better on my putting. I know that my chipping and my pitching can get a lot better. My iron play is really good, but I feel like I can kind of hone that in and get some little things fixed up. And driving and 3‑wood. It’s always just trying to just get it a little bit better to where those bad days are just even better because I think that’s what separates the best players in the world.”

Justin Thomas watches his shot during the pro am for the Zozo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino C.C. in Japan on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (Lee Jin-man/Associated Press)

He has a case for being the best player the past three months. He hasn’t been worse than a tie for 12th in his last eight starts, two of which were victories – the BMW Championship in the FedExCup playoffs and the CJ Cup. He’s been inside the top 10 in his last four starts. He is 68 under par in his last four starts.

“I don’t feel like I’m on anything crazy. To be honest, I’ve been working my ass off this entire year ever since I got hurt,” said Thomas, who missed six weeks, including a start in the PGA Championship, with a wrist injury earlier this year.

“We’ve been working on some of the right things and I’ve been doing the things I need to do at home when I’m not playing to make sure I’m ready when I get to tournaments. That being said, I understand careers are going to have many ups and downs and heaters and cold streaks, so I’m just going to try to keep playing as much good golf as I can as long as I can.”

Nothing in the forecast looks bleak for Thomas. And here’s another warning shot for his colleagues to consider – his mental acumen is as good as his physical action with club in hand. Case in point came last week when he won for the fourth time in nine starts in Asia.

“I felt like last week was some of the best mentally I’ve been. I just was in a great, great place all week,” Thomas said. “Nothing really phased me or bothered me. I would make a bogey and I would let it go immediately. I would be upset or I maybe say a couple things to Jimmy (Johnson, his caddie), but I think in the past, I know especially my first couple years on Tour, I would kind of let that linger and bother me.”

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