Listening to Justin Thomas, it’s easy to wonder if he’s hanging out in the same room with Ryder Cup teammate Brooks Koepka this week.
Koepka has received backlash for comments last week describing the Ryder Cup as “hectic” and “a bit odd” for players in an individualized sport. Thomas sang a much different tune Tuesday, speaking to the “brotherhood” and “camaraderie” of playing for the United States.
“Just getting together, you’d think that all of us are best friends the entire year,” Thomas said. “We hang out, we all live in the same place, and it’s just a lot of fun.
“It’s great for all the girlfriends and wives to catch up, and it’s great for all the players.”
While Koepka’s long-running feud with Bryson DeChambeau has garnered the most attention leading up to this week’s event at Whistling Straits, Thomas was glowing in his description of the vibes in the U.S. team room. The 12-player squad watched football while playing ping-pong and signing memorabilia Monday night.
“Obviously, it’s not like all 12 of us are just sitting cross-legged around a circle on the floor just talking about life,” he said. “But we’re all in our … just kind of bopping around the room and catching up here and there, and it’s been fun.”
Like much of the U.S. team, Thomas is seeking his first Ryder Cup team victory. The sixth-ranked player in the world was on the losing side in Paris three years ago.
Thomas posted an excellent 4-1-0 record for the week, including 3-1-0 with good friend Jordan Spieth. Thomas is also 6-2-2 in the Presidents Cup, making him one of the most successful players in team events on captain Steve Stricker’s team.
The pairings for Friday’s opening group round may not be known until Thursday, but there is plenty of speculation that Thomas and Spieth will be one of Stricker’s core teams.
“I’m receptive for whatever is best for the team,” Thomas said. “If it means that Jordan and I play every match together, if it means that we split up, everybody is on board with what is best for the team, and I think that’s what is most important.
“Yeah, on paper it’s pretty easy to just put matches out, we’ve got these teams, we’ve got these four teams, we’ve got these four teams. But things change.”
Another of Thomas’ close friends is Tiger Woods, who stayed at home in Florida this week while continuing to recover from significant leg injuries suffered in a car accident. Although Woods wasn’t able to make the trip to Wisconsin to serve as a vice-captain in person, Thomas visited with him last week and said Woods remains heavily involved in the team.
“He’s so into it,” Thomas said. “He obviously wants the best for our team. He wants the best for all of us. It means a lot to him.
“Just the amount of work and the amount of hours he’s willing to spend to make sure that he feels like the team is prepared and as ready to go as possible is pretty cool.
“At the end of the day he also understands that we’re 12 of the best players in the world, and we know how to play golf. Sometimes less is more, so I think he’s great at balancing that out.”
–Field Level Media