Justin Thomas aiming for third US PGA title but still keeping an eye on Leeds’ play-off

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Thomas and Ryder Cup team-mate Jordan Spieth are among a group of star-studded minority investors in the Yorkshire club.
Posted on
May 14, 2024
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Justin Thomas will be aiming for a third US PGA Championship in his home town of Louisville, but he will also keep an eye on events almost 4,000 miles away.

Thomas and Ryder Cup team-mate Jordan Spieth are among a group of star-studded minority investors in Leeds United, who face Norwich in the second leg of the Championship play-offs at Elland Road on Thursday evening.

The 8pm kick-off has worked out well for Thomas, who has been given an early tee time for the opening round at Valhalla, where he will bid to lift the Wanamaker Trophy for the third time after victories in 2017 and 2022.

“I’m very excited about my morning tee time on Thursday,” Thomas said. “That has worked out nicely for that 3 o’clock game.”

Asked if he had any advice on how Leeds could improve their woeful play-off record – they have failed to gain promotion from all five of their previous attempts – Thomas added: “My advice is very different than probably anything that would be useful or helpful to them, but I know I’ve really, really enjoyed learning a lot more about the sport.

“Billy Foster [Matt Fitzpatrick’s caddie], I think between him, Jordan and I, we’ve definitely become a lot closer over the last year, and he’s given us a lot of insight and knowledge in terms of Leeds and sending us videos from games.

“Right now I like the fact that they’re playing at Elland Road. I know that they’re a tough team to beat there, so I’m excited to watch.”

Thomas turned professional the year before the US PGA was last held at Valhalla in 2014 and, although he failed to qualify a decade ago, he was on site as a seven-year-old spectator in 2000 when Tiger Woods beat Bob May in a play-off.

“I would say this tournament at this golf course, watching Tiger here in 2000 in person, is a large part of my love for professional golf and wanting to win majors and golf tournaments,” Thomas added.

“I obviously don’t remember a lot, being seven years old. But I remember just being probably like inspired, being very in awe. I just hadn’t been to anything that big. I mean, the energy that week was crazy.

“As you know, the Kentucky, Louisville sports fans are sports fans and we don’t get golf tournaments really ever, let alone major championships, and when it comes here they love it.

“Just 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.

“As a seven-year-old that’s pretty cool to hear in person. Watching Tiger and Bob May duel it out and how it all ended and me being a Tiger fan that I was, it was about as perfect of a week as I could have imagined.

“Not that you know what you want to do when you’re seven years old, but I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to play golf.”

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