Ryder Cup 2023: Justin Thomas relieved to have confidence of US captain and team-mates

Justin Thomas (right) and Jordan Spieth
Justin Thomas (right) and Jordan Spieth are an established US pairing
Venue: Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, Rome Dates: 29 Sep – 1 Oct
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Sounds, live text updates on BBC Sport website and daily highlights on BBC2

Justin Thomas says he is relieved that United States captain Zach Johnson and his team-mates “have faith” in him to compete at the Ryder Cup.

Thomas, 30, was among six US wildcard picks after failing to automatically qualify for the biennial match against Europe that begins in Rome on Friday.

His selection came after he failed to reach the season-ending FedEx Cup play-offs.

“Zach and I had discussions before the picks,” said Thomas.

“The only thing that mattered to me was that Zach, the vice captains and at the time, the other six guys, wanted me on the team.

“I told him [Johnson], ‘I want to be on the team, yeah. I think that I can compete and that I can go out there and I can do great for the team’.

“But at the end of the day, if the other guys in that room don’t think that I’m what’s best for the team, then I don’t deserve to go. I’m very glad that they did and do have faith in me.”

Two-time US PGA champion Thomas was the top scoring visiting player on his Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National in Paris in 2018.

His four points were the most by an American on European soil since 1981 when Larry Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino also scored four.

And he collected 2½ points in 2021 as the US team reclaimed the trophy with a record 19-9 victory over Europe at Whistling Straits.

But he arrives at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club following the worst season of his PGA Tour career.

Having missed the cut in April’s Masters, Thomas then failed to make the weekend at the US Open, after shooting an 11-over-par 81 during a dismal second round on the north course of the Los Angeles Country Club.

He subsequently missed the cut in three of his next six events before returning to form with a fifth-place finish at the Fortinet Championship, with his selection to Johnson’s team already confirmed.

“The US Open was a really low place for me. I was playing arguably the best golf I’ve played in years going in and I shot a thousand and almost finished last,” he added.

“I played well the next week, so it just was weird. I was putting so much emphasis and pressure on trying to play well to make the Ryder Cup, as opposed to trying to make the play-offs, which is a wild concept. I’m just glad it worked out the way it did for me to be here.”

Thomas’ experience and leadership ‘invaluable’

With the US attempting to triumph in Europe for the first time since 1993, Thomas’ match-play experience and likely partnership with Jordan Spieth could prove to be key for the American side.

The Thomas/Spieth axis has previously claimed four points from six matches in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of one of the world’s greatest sporting events.

“There’s a lot of invaluable elements when it comes to JT and this event,” said US captain Johnson.

“I can say this in full confidence with our six guys that made this team – those guys were adamant they wanted those six other guys to help complete their team, and JT was one of them.

“Recent form kind of goes both ways. We look at it both statistically and subjectively. It’s not just the last two or three months. There’s a lot of other factors involved there when it comes to the objective.”Obviously subjectively, he has all the intangibles and the innate ability to rally guys around him and be a leader vocally, but also without having to say much.”

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