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Justin Thomas knows that he can count himself lucky to be playing at the Ryder Cup in Rome this month. And the PGA Championship double-winner has admitted that waiting for a call from USA captain Zach Johnson was like trying to get back in touch with an ex-girlfriend. Thomas was one of Johnson’s six wildcard picks for the American team and without question the most contentious. The 30-year-old former world No. 1 has been in miserable form leading up to the showdown in Rome.
He missed the cut at three of this year’s four Majors, finishing tied 65th in the other and has missed five cuts in total since the beginning of June. As a result, he failed to make it into the PGA Tour’s end-of-season playoffs.
But Thomas is a big name in the world of the Ryder Cup, with impressive historical statistics to back him up. In the end, Johnson could not look beyond his record of 6 wins 2 losses and 1 halve and handed the world No. 24 a wildcard spot.
The decision to select him has been criticised in some quarters in the States, but Johnson defended his choice by calling Thomas the “heart and soul” of his team.
Nevertheless, the Florida-born star revealed that waiting to learn his fate was a harsh experience that taught him a lesson.
Thomas said: “It was brutal. I told Zach after the fact that I compared it to like if you had an ex-girlfriend that you were trying to find any excuse you could to reach out to them to get in contact, that’s pretty much how I felt like with Zach.
“I understood it wasn’t going to be something where I text him and he’s like, ‘hey, just to let you know, we’re at like a 60 per cent.’ No, that’s not what I was looking for in any way, shape or form. It’s very tough when you can’t do anything about it.
“It was like when Zach called, it was a lot of emotions, but like a relief was almost the first thing, and excitement. It was a lot. I had a lot of sleepless nights and then at one point it just kind of finally hit me, I had accepted the fact whatever was going to happen was going to happen, and I was OK with that. And I was always going to be supportive regardless of what happened.
“I’m just very excited, fortunate, happy that it ended the way that it did.”
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Thomas will likely be paired on the first two days with his boyhood friend Jordan Speith, who also had to rely on a wildcard selection but was as good as guaranteed to be included in Johnson’s team.
That would be music to the ears of Thomas, but having made the team, he is determined to take the lessons of what was an agonising wait.
“I did put a lot of pressure on myself to make this team because it means so much to me,” he said.
“But it was a valuable learning experience for me. I’ll use it going forward. You can want something too badly, and there’s times this season I did. I’m very, very fortunate to be here.”
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