Justin Thomas can’t wait for Tiger Woods to get out playing again because the legend is “annoying the hell out of me”.
The World No 5 and the three-time Open champion are good friends and Woods, still recovering from his serious car crash in February, keeps a close eye on how Thomas is doing. That’s a double-edged sword, though.
‘He doesn’t sleep a whole lot’
“It’s obviously a bummer not having him out here,” said Thomas on arrival at the Open. “But we talk quite a bit and I’m sure he’ll be in my ear all this week. He doesn’t sleep a whole lot so he’ll probably be watching the golf.
“Many times I’ll hit a bad shot or miss a short putt and when I get off the course and look at my phone, he’s the first person I get something from. He keeps me humble and I think that’s why we have the friendship that we do.
“He’s unfortunately been through that [out injured] more than others. But I’ve said to him many times that ‘I’m ready for you to start doing stuff again because you’re annoying the hell out of me’.”
‘I need to try and figure something out’
Thomas played last week in the Scottish Open, deciding against taking a week off before Sandwich because “my results haven’t been good in the Open; they speak for themselves.
“I need to try and figure something out,” he added. “This is a tradition I’d love to get into.
“When I was seven or eight years old, I would wake up early or stay up really late and watch The Open. I always loved being able to watch in bed when it was dark outside.
“ESPN would have coverage for eight or nine hours in a row. That was pretty fun when I was a 10-year-old or whatever I was.
“Luckily we had a bit of golf running in the family. There were a lot worse things I could have been doing.”
‘It’s different, it’s fun’
He’s not got a lot of prior knowledge of Royal St George’s, but he loves links golf in general.
“I know it’s maybe a little quirky and I’ve heard that a lot of the fairways are tough to hit. That always means there is a bit of luck involved, but a lot of Open Championships do have, with getting the right tee times and whatnot.
“I have yet to play a links course that I go to and think, ‘This place is bad’. It’s different, it’s fun. Hopefully we can get it firm and fast and playing a bit more challenging. But I’ll take it for whatever it is.”
Thomas was closest to the Claret Jug when his good friend Jordan Spieth won in 2017, sharing a flight home and the celebrations.
“I wouldn’t have held the Claret Jug at all,” he said. “But Jordan had shared a flight back with Zach Johnson when he won in 2015 and took a drink out it.
“So when Jordan won it and we were on that flight home, I’m like ‘give me that thing’.”