Thomas missing injured Woods in build-up to Masters


FILE PHOTO: Tiger Woods of the U.S. (L) shares a laugh with compatriot Justin Thomas as they walk to the 8th tee during practice for the 2018 Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, U.S. April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

April 8, 2021

AUGUSTA, Ga (Reuters) – Justin Thomas has obtained a precocious understanding of Augusta National Golf Course’s various nuances through regular practice rounds with Tiger Woods, a benefit he is missing at this week’s Masters where he will chase his first Green Jacket.

Thomas did not hesitate when asked on Tuesday what he missed most about the absence this week of good friend and five-times Masters champion Woods, who is at home recovering from career-threatening leg injuries suffered in a February vehicle crash.

“Playing the practice rounds with him for sure,” Thomas said in his pre-tournament news conference. “I went over and saw him a couple times last week and tried to go over a couple times during the week whenever I’m home and see him.

“We texted Friday morning, and he said it’s kind of starting to set in. He’s bummed he’s not here playing practice rounds with us, and we hate it, too.”

Thomas said that after Woods’s accident he had offered to help his friend in any way possible.

“That’s just what I want to do for him, is just be like, dude, I’ll do anything you want,” Thomas added.

“If you need me to help out with your kids, I can do that. If you want me to bring you — if you’re craving McDonald’s and you want me to bring it over, dude, I don’t care, I’m here for you and I’ll help out however I can.”

World number two Thomas finished fourth at last November’s Masters and has heated up since, including a win last month at The Players Championship, golf’s unofficial fifth major.

The 27-year-old American, whose stellar iron play should suit him well at Augusta National, will tee off Thursday in the penultimate group alongside 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and Tony Finau.

Thomas, whose sole major triumph came at the 2017 PGA Championship, admitted that his burning desire to win a Masters had at times hurt his chances of slipping into a Green Jacket.

“For some reason, everybody wants to win it a little bit more, and I definitely got sucked into that,” said Thomas. “But hopefully at the almost age of 28 now, I’ve matured a little bit and understand if and when it’s my time, it will happen.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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