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Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas playfully spar at presser ahead of early-round pairing

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Justin Thomas arrived for his 3 p.m. pre-tournament press convention early. So early, in actual fact, that Rory McIlroy nonetheless was answering one final query about how essential it was in his profession to win his second main at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course in 2012.

“A lot of guys have won one major, but it’s a big hurdle to get to the second. It was good to get that monkey off my back, especially here, playing so well,” McIlroy stated staring instantly at Thomas, whose lone main got here at the 2017 PGA Championship.

“So yeah, it was a big deal,” McIlroy completed, struggling to maintain a straight face as Thomas stewed within the again of the open-air tent. “I definitely didn’t want to be stuck on one for a long time, so happy to get that second.”

As McIlroy wrapped up and walked off the stage, Thomas muttered some alternative phrases below his breath, smiled the smile of a person who might take a joke, and stated, “Well played.”

It didn’t take lengthy for Thomas to be requested for his rebuttal.

“I can’t really say too much, other than it’s great to see him win. I know it’s been a really long time for him, so I’m glad to see him,” Thomas stated.

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It was a delicate jab at McIlroy, the current Wells Fargo Championship winner who had gone some 550 days with out tasting victory, and it too deserved a “well, played,” for the return of serve.

“But at the same time,” Thomas continued. “I really don’t want to egg him on because usually when he wins he likes to reel some off, and with a lot of big tournaments coming up I don’t really want to poke the bear.”

What Thomas, who will likely be grouped in a threesome alongside McIlroy within the opening two rounds, wish to do is locate his contact on the inexperienced. He putted horrifically at the Valspar Championship in Tampa three weeks in the past, shedding practically six strokes to the sphere over the primary three rounds, which prompted him to say that had he putted decently he’d be profitable the event. Thomas has been working laborious together with his placing coach, John Graham, to be much less mechanical together with his stroke.

“Just simplifying it,” he stated. “I’m very feel based and very artistic, if you will, in terms of seeing shots and hitting different spins on chip shots, pitch shots, whatever it is, and I need to take that same outlook into my putting.”

Thomas stated he did simply that at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“Once I tee up, I have to just go be athletic and be artistic and just go out and hit the putts the speed that I want. That’s something I did on Sunday at Quail Hollow, is just tried to be less perfect and just more feel based, and I putted the ball beautifully even with two three-putts there,” he stated.

Thomas arrived for the 103rd PGA on Sunday, taking part in 18 holes, and was happy he had an opportunity to play the Pete Dye structure in reverse wind instructions. He additionally picked the mind of Tiger Woods, however stated Tiger didn’t have loads to supply given he completed T-11 in 2012.

“He pretty much hit the nail on the head. It’s long, there’s a lot of crosswinds, and have a good short game,” Thomas stated.

Long is promoting it brief. This would be the longest course to host a serious championship at 7,876 yards, surpassing Erin Hills in 2018. Thomas laughed out loud final week when somebody despatched him a picture of the scorecard and he seen the again 9 measured greater than 4,000 yards.

“They can’t possibly play it that long. Unless they get a day where there’s absolutely no wind,” Thomas stated. “They can’t play 14, that par 3, back if you have this wind today. Guys are going to be literally hitting driver on that hole. Unless the PGA wants seven-hour rounds, I wouldn’t advise it.”

Forget the story of the tape. Let’s get able to rumble.


Lynch: Past PGA champ Rory McIlroy returns to Kiawah a different man, one boosted by confidence and fatherhood

World No. 2 Justin Thomas looks to get past putting disappointment at Quail Hollow

Justin Thomas believes he could be leading Valspar Championship if his putting was on point

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