Justin Thomas to channel his ‘inner Brooks Koepka’ at US Open
Thomas pays tribute to compatriot’s nerve as he retained US PGA at Bethpage Black
Justin Thomas has paid tribute to the way Brooks Koepka closed out victory in the US Open. Photograph: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty
Justin Thomas did not really want to say it, but admits he will channel his “inner Brooks Koepka” as he aims to emulate his compatriot’s amazing recent run in major championships.
Koepka won his first major title in the 2017 US Open and Thomas followed suit two months later in the US PGA Championship, but since then Koepka has won half of all majors contested and is seeking a third straight US Open title at Pebble Beach this week.
A wrist injury meant Thomas had to watch on television as Koepka successfully defended his title in last month’s US PGA at Bethpage, where he held off a spirited challenge from Dustin Johnson after taking a record seven-shot lead into the final round.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot watching Brooks at the PGA,” said Thomas, who was 20th in the Canadian Open on Sunday in his second event back following his injury.
“Everybody knows he’s very cool, calm, collected. He’s got one of the best swaggers out here, especially when he’s playing well. He’s obviously very confident.
And he’s been the most accomplished player the last two years or whatever it might be, so that’s why he’s number one in the world.
“I promise I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, but I have started a Sunday with a seven-shot lead and it’s still to this day the most nervous I’ve been teeing off.
“No offence, but all I heard from you guys (in the media) is ‘No-one has ever blown a seven-shot lead in the history of the PGA Tour on Sunday’. I think every question I got was led with that.
“And it was tough for me at the Sony Open so I can’t imagine how it was at the PGA Championship, Bethpage Black, best field in golf, tough conditions.
“Watching how he handled that and the adversity that was thrown at him and just the shots that he hit when he needed to — because I know that I can get a little bit up and down with my emotions — I just felt like he handled that really well.
“So maybe if I got in that scenario, then I could, I hate to say channel my inner BK to boost his ego, but to definitely stress some of those characteristics is good.”
Thomas will certainly not be emulating one aspect of Koepka’s approach however, namely posing in a purple thong as Koepka did alongside his similarly-attired girlfriend Jena Sims on holiday earlier this year.
“I never want to hang out with or see that Brooks,” Thomas joked. “I never want to be around that Brooks. He can do that in his own group and own time.“I never want to see the thong Brooks ever. Thanks for putting that image back in my head.”