Justin Thomas does not want for golf buddies. The one-time major champ is among golf’s most well-liked stars, and he’s earned a reputation among fans and players alike for his jocularity. It’s this approach that has earned Thomas a stable of pros willing to pick up a game with him at a moment’s notice.
During the PGA Tour layoff in spring 2020, Thomas and Rickie Fowler were frequent playing partners, even playing a round together left-handed. But for all of JT’s professional buddies, few can match up to Tiger Woods. Thomas and Woods have developed a relationship since Thomas’ introduction to professional golf in 2014, first as competitors and then again as playing partners. The two have grown so close over the years that Woods even invited JT to join him for his pre-Masters practice rounds.
On this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar, Justin broke down his relationship with Tiger, including why the Augusta National invite isn’t the “coolest thing” about hanging with the Big Cat.
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“He’s meant a lot, man. I just respect him so much,” Thomas said. “I’d looked up to him and his golf game and how he won and how he went about it — now getting to know him just his preparation and how hard he works.”
Still, Thomas says the best part of his relationship with Tiger has very little to do with their time on the course.
“Probably the coolest thing for me is seeing him spend time with Charlie, just seeing how much he loves being around him [and Woods’ daughter Sam] on the golf course,” Thomas said. “He is such a good dad and he loves being around his kids.”
JT isn’t the first to notice the importance of Tiger’s family in this latest stretch of his career. Woods’ emotional embrace with his children and mother, Tida, was perhaps the most memorable scene from his 2019 Masters win.
Still, Thomas says, Woods’ dedication to his kids might come as a surprise to some.
“It’s cool because a lot of people might give him a bad rap because of how he is to the media or the people, but it’s like, he can’t go anywhere,” he said. “He had a compound in his house for a reason, because he needs everything he needs there because he can’t go anywhere else. I’m sure he would gladly take that [over being] someone who hasn’t won and can go anywhere he wants.”
While the circumstances of Tiger’s career have altered the way he handles certain matters, they haven’t changed his relationship with his kids. For Thomas, seeing Woods in his most human moments is something he wouldn’t trade.
“For me, the coolest thing is just to watch him interact and getting to hang out with [Tiger’s kids] and hitting different shots with him and learning different things. It’s been a lot more of a friendship than I thought it would be, I thought it would be something where we would talk here and there from time to time. I think he likes how much s— I give him, and he kinda gives it back. I don’t want to kiss his a–, enough people do that to him.”
To watch the rest of Thomas’ Subpar interview, check out the video below or subscribe wherever podcasts are found.