Interview with Justin Thomas at 2021 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Ahead of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, we spoke to Justin Thomas about making his debut at the tournament and why he might have an advantage going into this event.

You’ve played a couple of these Rolex Series events before, but this is your debut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC championship. Can you tell us how excited you are to get started?

Yeah, I’m very excited. This is a tournament and a place that I’ve watched on TV many a times back home and it’s an unbelievable place. You know, it’s even nicer being on a Troon property for me, a partner that I have and I’m very close with, and it’s an unbelievable course. It’s in immaculate shape. Pretty convenient staying in hotel right on property here. The facilities are great. The food’s been great and it’s been very enjoyable thus far.

What do you think will be key to winning this week?

It definitely is going to help driving it well. It seems like a course that if you’re driving the ball well, you have the opportunity to make a lot of birdies. The greens are pretty soft and they are in very good shape to where if you put the ball in the right place on the greens, you can make a lot of putts and really go low. That’s kind of been our priority here this week is just figuring out lines, figuring out shots and what I want to hit off the tees.

Yeah, that seems like it’s going to be a pretty big priority this week.

It’s your first time over here and they pride themselves on the safety and health of everybody involved. How have you found the coronavirus treatment here and do you feel you’re in a safe environment?

Yeah, it’s been great. I was not curious, but obviously playing on the PGA Tour and seeing how they have done it, every single organisation, sporting group, whatever, they all do it differently and they all kind of have their own system.

And for The European Tour, I would have to think it’s difficult travelling country-to-country each week and with different guidelines and they really have done an unbelievable job, I mean, from when we started up to now and being able to put these events on and still have great fields week-in and week-out.

In terms of me for this week, it’s been nothing but great in terms of the bubble that you’re in and staying within that and following the protocols both on and off the golf course. They have done a great job just like the PGA Tour to making it feel as normal as possible while also not being normal.

It’s the first chance to speak to you since what happened in Hawaii. What happened with Ralph Lauren deciding to end their relationship with you? And were you disappointed by that, given that you had given a full apology?

I think disappointed is the wrong word. Obviously I was upset. But at the end of the day, they have that right. They had to make the decision that they had to make. I spoke with them along with all my sponsors. Although I apologised, it’s like it was then; it’s an opportunity for me to grow and I felt like it was something we could have done together and gone through that process. They just felt like they needed to move on. That’s exactly what I’m doing, as well.

It was a great run that we had and a great partnership, but you know, things will work out on the best.

How many of your other sponsors have given any indication of what they are planning, and are they sticking with you as things stand?

I’ve had great communication with all of them. It was obviously not calls or e-mails I was hoping or planning to make but I needed to because I have some great long lasting partnerships with all my sponsors. They know that’s not the person that I am.

They know that’s not how I act and although they are far from brushing it to the side just like I am, they understand that this is an opportunity for me to educate myself, grow, become a better person, and just like they hope, I know that I’ll become a better man and a better person because of it, and they are going to kind of help me along that process.

You played in Hawaii and at the Father/Son championship during the off-season. Will this be an advantage to you? And regarding equipment changes, how difficult is it to adapt to new equipment and what are the metrics you look at before making changes?

Yeah, I don’t tinker and change with equipment very often. The irons that I use are basically the irons that I’ve used for probably four, five, six years now. They are the same. They have no offset. They have the same kind of bounce and grind on them. They are just kind of newer models but they are made basically identically so that’s always been an easy transition. Wedges are always an easy transition. I’ll change bounces on 60-degree every once in a while depending on the turf we’re playing in.

In terms of the woods, I just am I big believer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. So I like my 5-wood. I like my 3-wood, and the driver is something I feel like I’ve been able to try to improve, and I’ve made some good strides on that and I think we are getting really, really close in that.

And yeah, so I mean, in terms of playing during the off-season, if you will, I’m hoping it was going to help me. That was kind of the plan behind it, and I was just glad that my dad to carry us to a victory at the Father/Son to get a win in December before Christmas.

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