Justin Thomas admitted it was “surreal” and “crazy,” but he insisted it was true. Not long after he had broken through and won his first major title, he said the victory only tied for first among his thrills for that week.
Right after he won the PGA Championship, he was invited to a celebratory dinner with Tiger Woods. “I probably got just as much joy out of that as I did in winning, which is bizarre to say,” Thomas said during the Northern Trust playoff event at Glen Oaks last August, on his way to winning the FedEx Cup as the PGA Tour’s top player.
It says everything about what Woods means to the development of the current generation of tour stars. Thomas, 25, the son of a club pro in Kentucky, had been in the gallery as a 7-year-old to see Woods win the 2000 PGA Championship in Louisville.
“He gives me [junk] all the time that he was on his dad’s shoulders when I won at Louisville,” Woods said. “I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’
“You know, I was out of the game, unfortunately, when he came into the game, came onto the scene out here, so I kind of missed it a little bit,” said the 14-time major winner, who lives near Thomas in the tour players enclave of Jupiter, Florida. “But I got a chance to know him by him coming over to the house, going out to dinners, just hanging out. He’s a great kid. His mom and dad are fantastic.”
When they got together after the PGA last August, it was Woods who was the fan. He had watched the tournament on TV and asked all kinds of questions, imploring the new major champion to describe what he was thinking and feeling during certain shots.
Woods got a thrill out of the meeting, too. He said, “Oh, we had a blast.”