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JERSEY CITY, N.J When you’ve had a season like that of Justin Thomas, it can be difficult to determine the most important metric amid such heady success. Unless you’re his dad.
Mike Thomas can recite chapter and verse on the accomplishments that are expected to earn his son the PGA Tour Player of the Year award: the five wins, the first major victory at the PGA Championship, the FedEx Cup title, record-setting rounds (59 at the Sony Open, 63 at the U.S. Open), the Arnold Palmer Award for topping the money list, the 3-1 record in his first U.S. team appearance at the Presidents Cup.
The 2017 season has brought an avalanche of accolades for the 24-year-old, but none of those tops his old man’s list of what matters.
You know, I look at it from two sides. As a teacher I’m looking at what we’re doing well and what we can improve on, Mike Thomas said. And as a father, I’m looking at how you need to treat people like you want to be treated. At the end of the day, those things are more important to me than how you’re hitting it.
So, chalk up another win for JT?
I hope that people think that he is, Dad says. I like to believe that he is. I don’t see a lot of negative stuff come out about him. The key is to stay that way. We’re from a small town in Kentucky, and we have to keep our roots.
Thomas is on track to win Player of the Year over three other nominees: Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Open Championship winner Jordan Spieth. The vote by his peers would make official what has been obvious most of the season: Just three years into his career, Justin Thomas is the best player on Tour.
Thomas began his season hot in the heat of Malaysia, retaining his title at the CIMB Classic, and quickly followed by sweeping both Tour stops in Hawaii, the SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open, where he opened with a 59 and cantered to a seven-stroke win. In the third round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills he hit one of the best shots of the year, a 3-wood from 310 yards that set up an eagle and a round of 63, the first 9-under-par round in Open history.
And those are just the appetizers in his feast of a season.