Justin Thomas targets FedEx Cup playoffs win in bid for back-to-back titles
Defending champion in a position where he can play well and maintain his spot
Justin Thomas in action during the Pro Am event prior to the start of The Northern Trust at Ridgewood CC, in New Jersey. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
While Woods (2007, 2009) is the only player to win the overall FedEx Cup title more than once, Thomas can this season become the first to win back-to-back titles – and the bonus of $10 million.
Thomas has won three times on the PGA Tour’s wraparound 2017-2018 season, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and was sixth in defence of his US PGA Championship title on his last start.
The 25-year-old is just 83 points behind world number one Dustin Johnson in the current standings and is keen to at least maintain his position for the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta, where the top five know that victory at East Lake would secure the overall title regardless of other results.
“I understand how important these playoffs are and have thought about it a couple of times,” Thomas told a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the first playoff event, the Northern Trust at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
“You really have to win in the playoffs. You have to win one of these four events, plain and simple.
“Atlanta is a little bit more preferred than the others but I’m in a position where I can play well and hopefully maintain my spot, if not drop too much, because everyone’s main goal is to be in that top five come Atlanta and you can control your own destiny.
“These first three events are very important and you just need to treat it like I do every other tournament and try to give myself a chance to win.”
Thomas won the second playoff event last year and was runner-up to Xander Schauffele in the Tour Championship to claim the overall title, a situation which still rankles.
“I’m still pretty mad I didn’t win that tournament,” the world number three added. “18 [at East Lake] is one of the easier holes on the course, it’s a driver, five iron for me and I had a 30-footer for birdie.
“I should have birdied that to have a chance in a playoff so it still bothers me. I’d take a second place in that tournament every year if it meant I won the FedEx Cup every year, but I’d like a first place in the FedEx Cup more.”
As for whether he would brag to Woods about achieving something the 14-time major winner has not, Thomas joked: “I talk a lot of trash to Tiger, but I don’t talk a lot of trash in terms of, ‘Hey, I’ve done this and you haven’t,’ because his list is a lot longer than mine.
“I’d get in two or three things and then I’d be done and he’d go on for hours.”