Justin Thomas insisted he is not concerned by the lack of atmosphere and welcomed the chance to return to competition on the PGA Tour in Texas this week.
Three months after golf on all main Tours worldwide was shut down due to the global coronavirus pandemic, Thomas is looking forward to teeing up in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, with live coverage on Sky Sports Golf.
The first five events on the modified PGA Tour schedule will be played behind closed doors and with severe restrictions for on-site personnel, which forced Thomas to “employ” his father, Mike, as his temporary coach.
But despite the spectator ban coupled with the strict health and safety protocols implemented by the Tour, Thomas believes everyone in the field would be unanimous in welcoming the return of professional competition, regardless of the circumstances.
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“The atmosphere will definitely be different, but then again, everything is different than what we’ve been used to the last three months,” said Thomas in the first pre-tournament press conference since the eve of The Players Championship, which was abandoned after just one round in mid-March.
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“I would say that every single person in this field would gladly say that they would rather be playing without fans than wait and play with fans, if that means it’s a couple weeks sooner. That’s the luxury we have on the PGA Tour.
“If you have your Tour card, you don’t have to play if you don’t want, so if someone was really worked up or bothered by that, they don’t have to come. But I think the strength of the field this week and the amount of top players in the world that are here showed that it’s not going to be too much of an issue because we all came.
“Just in terms of the quality of players, I think the Tour did a great job, and obviously some international people either choosing not to come or just not being able to, that is tough.”
Thomas is expecting the majority of the field to struggle for consistency throughout the tournament, but he insisted everybody has had ample time to prepare and practice ahead of Thursday’s resumption.
“That was the main thing that we talked about a lot in the Player Advisory Council calls is that we needed to make sure there was enough time and preparation for guys to get ready,” added Thomas, who will play the opening two rounds with close friends Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth.
“But also I just think the quality of play is going to be all over the place, just because of rust, because of how much guys have been practising, and also just being away from competitive golf that long or how they choose to use their time off.
“You’re going to see definitely a wide variety of scores, not just because of the golf course but just to see who used their time well or not.”
Thomas also praised the PGA Tour for their handling of the return to competitive golf, adding: “I would say 2020 is beyond a bizarre year so far, and especially in the world of sports it’s just going to be different.
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