Justin Thomas ignoring criticism of Ryder Cup inclusion

by Joanne Miller

Justin Thomas Calls Wait for U.S. Ryder Cup Team Nod ‘Brutal’

By Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer

Sep 26, 2023, 11:37 AM ET

Justin Thomas, a two-time PGA Championship winner and a prominent American golfer, revealed on Tuesday that waiting for his inclusion in the U.S. Ryder Cup team was “brutal”. Thomas shared that he had many sleepless nights anxiously anticipating the call from U.S. team captain Zach Johnson, informing him of his selection for the squad.

Throughout the selection process, Thomas had faced criticism regarding his inclusion in the team. However, he made it clear that the only thing that mattered to him was the faith that Johnson and his fellow American golfers had in him. Thomas admitted to avoiding social media and online content in order to shield himself from negativity and maintain a positive mindset.

Thomas’ recent form on the PGA Tour has been unimpressive, with six missed cuts in 21 starts this season. He failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in his career and has slipped to 24th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Additionally, he had disappointing rounds in the U.S. Open and Open Championship, recording scores in the 80s. Despite this, Thomas finished 15th in the U.S. Ryder Cup points standings and ultimately secured one of Johnson’s six captain’s picks for the team.

Johnson’s decision to select Thomas was mainly influenced by his impressive Ryder Cup record. In his two previous appearances, Thomas boasts a remarkable 6-2-1 record. Notably, he played a key role in the U.S.’s victories, winning four out of five possible points in the 2018 Ryder Cup and 2½ out of four points in the 2021 edition.

Johnson consulted with the six automatic qualifiers for the team, including Scottie Scheffler, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa, and Xander Schauffele, while making his captain’s choices.

During their conversation, Thomas conveyed to Johnson that he understood the decision rested with the team and not just his personal desire to be included. Thomas stated, “if the six guys in that room don’t think that I’m what’s best for the team, then I don’t deserve to go.” He expressed his gratitude and relief that they had faith in him and emphasized the importance of unity within the team.

In his most recent tournament, Thomas showed signs of improvement, finishing fifth at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, California. Xander Schauffele, who played practice rounds with Thomas, attested to his competitiveness and passion for the Ryder Cup. Schauffele mentioned that Thomas excelled in their matches, demonstrating a fierce determination to win.

Jordan Spieth, a teammate and close friend of Thomas, described him as the “backbone” of the U.S. team. Spieth noted that Thomas thrives in front of enthusiastic crowds, especially those outside the U.S., which elevates his focus and performance.

Another U.S. team member, Patrick Cantlay, labeled Thomas as the “best Ryder Cup player in the last decade.” Cantlay praised his fearlessness in crucial moments and his love for match play. He further emphasized that having Thomas on the team gives them a significant advantage.

In conclusion, Thomas acknowledged that he is currently in a better mental state and believes he can win golf tournaments. Despite his struggles this season, he expressed confidence in his ability to triumph even without his best golf. With a positive mindset and the support of his teammates, Thomas is ready to contribute to the U.S. Ryder Cup team’s quest for victory.

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