Thomas eager to avoid Claret Jug jinx
Justin Thomas openly admits he’s superstitious about touching a trophy before he’s won it, so drinking wine from the Claret Jug two years ago should be a bad omen for this week.
But seeing as his only major victory came 15 years after first handling its prize, the world No.2 is confident he can counter any potential Open jinx.
Thomas’ maiden major triumph was the PGA Championship last August – where he held off the field by two strokes at Quail Hollow Club – but his first interaction with the Wanamaker Trophy came a decade and a half prior.
“I am one of those people that usually doesn't like to touch a trophy until I win it,” said Thomas.
“But I remember when my dad worked for the PGA, I held (2001 PGA champion) David Toms’ trophy when I was about nine years old.
“I don't know if it was a champions' dinner or what it was but David was there, he had his Wanamaker and I asked for a picture. He let me hold it.
“That picture is somewhere at home but I was holding his Wanamaker trophy and that panned out okay!
“I drank out of the Claret Jug two years ago with (2015 Champion Golfer) Zach Johnson. We were staying in a house just before Zach had to return it and we had some wine out of it. So, I’m hoping there’s no jinx!”
Koepka drawing on formative experiences
Jinx or not – Thomas’ precise, all-round golf game and penchant for creativity makes him a legitimate contender at Carnoustie, despite a patchy-at-best Open record that consists of a tied-53rd in 2016 and missing the cut last year.
He’s a much better player than he was 12 months ago and is part of a quartet of talented young Americans currently in possession of the majors, alongside Masters champion Patrick Reed, US Open winner Brooks Koepka and Champion Golfer Jordan Spieth.
Koepka retained his US Open title at Shinnecock Hills last month and although renowned for his thumping drives, he has plenty of experience of links golf.
In his younger days, the 28-year-old competed on this side of the Atlantic on the Challenge and European Tour – even winning the Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore back in 2013 – and claims he was indelibly shaped by those early professional experiences.
“Looking back, I don't think I would be where I am today without it,” reflected Koepka. “I don't think I'd be sitting here with two majors if I didn't do that.
“It really helped me grow as a person, grow my golf game and it was the best time in my life. I enjoyed it way more than I probably do now, playing on the Tour.
“I wish it could have lasted a little bit longer but then part of me doesn't because I had to move on. But it was so much fun, man, it really was. I don't regret anything coming over here. It really was beneficial for me but in the same sense, I don't think everybody can do it. I don't think it's made for everybody.”
Reed's hunger undiminished
Winning a major is the culmination of a childhood dream for almost every golfer but what makes the greats truly special is maintaining that drive to win more titles even once their initial goal is accomplished.
And 27-year-old Reed is adamant pulling on a Green Jacket won’t change his mindset heading into Carnoustie.
“It is already a year to remember after winning my first major but there would be nothing like going out and winning the Claret Jug as well,” said Reed.
“Winning two majors in three starts would be a dream but I know I can’t get too far ahead of myself. I know what I need to improve on now.
“The biggest thing with me is that my expectations are so high anyway. Winning at Augusta has not changed my mindset at all.
“I just know that if I get too worked up trying to shoot a score then I go in the wrong direction. I felt like I was in complete control of every shot and that is how I need to play.”
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