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Justin Thomas Prepared for "Special" PGA Championship Homecoming

Nick Roushby:Nick Roush05/14/24

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Justin Thomas grew up a stone’s throw away from Valhalla Golf Club. This weekend he’s returning to the place where he fell in love with golf to play in a tournament that made him a Major Champion.

“It’s very special,” Thomas said on Tuesday. “I would say this tournament at this golf course is a lot of reason for my love for professional golf and wanting to win majors and golf tournaments.”

An Oldham County native, Thomas was raised in a house near Harmony Landing, the golf club where his father, Mike, served as the teaching pro for decades. He’s been around the game of golf his entire life. It eventually took him to St. X, where he was a state champion golfer, then to Alabama, where he won a national championship.

Long before he became an ascending star on the links, Justin Thomas was just a starstruck kid watching Tiger Woods wow the crowds at Valhalla. Now close friends, Thomas was only 7 years old when Tiger created roars across the course during the 2000 PGA Championship.

“The energy was crazy that week and just hearing the roars in person. You’re on one side of the course, you hear it on another side of the course, or maybe I’m inside and I could hear it where wherever it was going on. As a seven-year-old that’s pretty cool to hear in person,” said Thomas.

“You think you can do anything when you’re that age, but watching Tiger and Bob May duel it out and how it all ended and me being the Tiger fan that I was, it was about as perfect of a week as I could have imagined. I just remember that I had a — not that you know what you want to do when you’re 7 years old, but I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to play golf.”

Thomas fell in love with high-level golf at Valhalla, but it’s not a course where he’s won before. However, this is the event where he’s been at his best. In 2017 he won the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow en route to a FedEx Cup title. Five years later he picked up his second Wanamaker Trophy by defeating Will Zalatoris in a three-hole playoff.

This tournament matters a little more to the Louisville native. Not only is it a homecoming, his father spent years serving on the PGA board of directors. Mike Thomas and his many acquaintances on the board stand on the 18th green after the 72nd hole for the trophy presentation. Justin Thomas can provide a storybook ending by securing a post in that setting this Sunday.

“It’s kind of a full-circle moment,” said Thomas. “It’s like I kind of watched them do what they did forever and now I’m on the other side and I’m the one that’s inside the ropes on the 18th green with them as opposed to me watching as a little kid them being on the green giving whoever the champion was the trophy. So, I sure like the second version better than the first.”

PGA Championship Tee Times Announced

Thomas will be one of the first players on the course Thursday morning. Paired with Ludvig Åberg and Xander Schauffele, they’ll take the course at 7:53 am. Tiger Woods will play right behind them alongside Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley. Take a closer look at all of the tee times here for Thursday and Friday or take a peek at the list below.

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2024-05-27