“The guy (JT) loves, absolutely loves, playing tournament golf. It’s his high. You might think every professional golfer feels this way, but they do not. He looks most himself, most alive, when the lights are brightest. This is what he’s always wanted to do, and he’s doing it, and he’s fully aware of this obsession he has.”
-- Dan Rapaport, Golf Digest staff writer, said after Thomas’s PGA victory Sunday.
I admit it. I am a bit of an Eeyore. You know, Winnie-the-Pooh’s donkey friend who sees life as a grind and struggle. As he said, “Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be.”
Going into Sunday’s final round at Southern Hills, Justin Thomas must have been thinking exactly that way. He was 2-under-par 208 after three rounds, which was seven strokes behind the leader, Mito Pereira. Besides that big deficit, five players were ahead of him and one Major winner, Stewart Cink, was tied with him. And then, of course, there was THE FACT that only one player had ever made up a seven-stroke deficit on the final day of the PGA -- John Mahaffey in the 1978 PGA at Oakmont.
While Thomas may have had serious doubts about his chances of winning going into the final round, his caddie and father were going into full cheerleader mode. According to Thomas, on Saturday night caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay said, “You have to stop being so hard on yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. Keep staying positive so good stuff can happen.”
And his father, Mike, a PGA teaching pro and his swing coach, outlined a possible path to victory before Sunday’s final round: “What we said this morning is you’re four back of second [place]. Try to catch those sixes (players 6 under par). And then we just need help from the front runner. Unfortunately for them, that's what happened.”
As we all know now, the “dream” scenario became a reality. Thomas shot a 67 for a final score of -5 (275) and Mito Pereira shot himself in the foot with a double-bogey 6 on the 18th hole. That left Thomas and Will Zalatoris, who shot a final-round 71, as the only two standing after 72 holes. In the 3-hole playoff, Thomas, defeated Zalatoris by 1 stroke, birdieing the first two holes.
Obviously, Thomas has game, but he also has attitude, a great attitude, which is why I have started a new quote collection.
“In golf, while there is life, there is hope.” – Sir Walter Simpson (1843 to 1898) was a 19th century Scottish philosopher and a Captain of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. He wrote the book, The Art of Golf (1887).
“To make oneself a successful match player, there are certain qualities to be sought after, certain ideas must be kept in mind and certain phases of one’s attitude towards the game that come in for special notice. The three I have taken are these: love of combat, serenity of mind and fearlessness.” – Glenna Collett Vare (1903 to 1989) was known as the female Bobby Jones. She won six U.S. Women’s Amateurs, two Canadian Women’s Amateurs and one French Women’s Amateur.
“If there is any part of the game of golf where touch, feel and positive attitude can compensate for a less-than-perfect swing, it’s in the short game. Once you’re in scoring range, get that ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible. It isn’t “how” that counts, it’s “how many.” – Doug Ford (1922 – 2018), who had 34 professional wins, including two Majors – 1955 PGA and 1957 Masters
“Approach the golf course as a friend, not an enemy.” – Arnold Palmer (1929 to 2016), winner of 62 PGA Tour events, including seven Majors.
“Through preparation and hard work, you can prepare yourself for a mental attitude – ‘a zone.’ When it happens, all you see is the ball and the hole.” -- Payne Stewart (1957 – 1999), who won three Majors – U.S. Open in 1991 & 1999 and PGA in 1989.
“I’ve always looked at coming down the stretch as a battle, where every shot becomes important. You’re fighting a miniwar between not only your technique and your mental attitude, but also between the golf course and your competitors.” – Mark O’Meara (b. 1957), winner of two Majors, the 1998 Masters and British Open.
“Let your attitude determine your golf game. Don’t let your golf game determine your attitude.” – David Love III (Born 1964), a winner of 21 PGA Tour tournaments, including the 1997 PGA at Winged Foot GC (West Course).
“You've got to be able to let things roll off your back, and you've got to have some patience.” -- Brooks Koepka (born 1990), won the U.S. Open in 2017 & 2018 and the PGA in 2018 & 2019. He is the first golfer in history to hold back-to-back titles in two Majors simultaneously.
In The Cup,