When Justin Thomas was 15th in the Ryder Cup points standings, outsiders overlooked a significant portion of the metrics applied by United States captain Zach Johnson when it came to selecting Thomas for his 12-man roster.
Specifically, Thomas was unanimously approved as a captain’s pick by Johnson’s six automatic qualifiers.
“His record speaks for itself. He’s been the best Ryder Cup player probably in the last decade,” American teammate Patrick Cantlay said Tuesday. “I think any time you have a chance to have that guy on your team, you want him.”
Johnson said Thomas compelled the use of a captain’s pick with subjective elements as much as objective analysis.
“There’s a lot of, I’d say, invaluable elements when it comes to J.T. and this event, and I can say this in full confidence with our six guys that made this team: Those guys were, you know, adamant they wanted those six other guys to help complete their team, and J.T. was one of them,” Johnson said.
Thomas, 30, didn’t qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in his career and failed to reach the weekend six times in 21 starts. But he’s on the Ryder Cup roster for the third consecutive time with a 6-2-1 record.
“I’ve been beside him for these Ryder Cups, and he quite simply plays better golf than the guys across from him,” said Jordan Spieth, a likely playing partner in best ball and alternate shot rounds at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club this weekend near Rome.
Thomas said he experienced some of his lowest points as a professional in 2023. His most recent outing showed a different Thomas from the one that shot rounds in the 80s in two of his four majors this year. He finished fifth at the Fortinet Championship and has played consistently with Ryder Cup teammates in Florida recently.
“I’m very glad that they did and do have faith in me,” Thomas said Tuesday.
“After I was picked from the team, it doesn’t matter what it is, especially when it comes to people and stuff online, everybody’s got an opinion and theirs is right and everybody else’s is wrong, at least that’s what generally seems to be,” Thomas said. “So for that exact reason, I stayed away from social media and stayed away from stuff online because I knew nothing good was going to come from it.”
Spieth said he sees an air of confidence in Thomas and believes he thrives in proving-ground situations. Xander Schauffele, who played with Thomas and Spieth on Monday, also got a close-up view of Thomas’ focus recently in a lopsided loss in a warm-up stateside.
“”He hates losing … he gets up for these,” Schauffele said. “You see a lot more emotion out of him, raw emotion out of him than you normally would at an individual tournament or on the PGA Tour.”
–Field Level Media