Justin Thomas admits he’s had a poor year but excited to defend his WGC-St Jude title

The 28-year-old was honest in his appraisal of his 2021, his major failures and the insignificance of the big money prizes that remain on offer.

There's no buttering the parsnips of 2021 as far as Justin Thomas is concerned.

Ahead of the first round of his defence of the World Golf Championship St Jude Invitational he was unsparing in his confession that this had not been a good year for him.

"Other than one week, really one weekend (when he went low to win THE PLAYERS Championship), I've had a very poor year," he said.

A reporter countered by saying that he has 15 million reasons to play well in the next month, referencing the huge financial prizes on offer in the FedExCup Playoffs.

But it cut little ice with Thomas.

"Not for me," he said. "It's definitely hard for me to look at the year as a whole knowing that I played so poorly in the Majors. That's a huge part of my season.

"Even if I win these last four events, it won't be a great season to me because I didn't win a Major.

"I understand what you're saying, but I don't have a hard time getting myself ready for this event or getting myself up for the Playoffs and the TOUR Championship. Anytime you have a chance to add your name to history, that's good enough for me.

"But the majority of my goals I can no longer accomplish this year. The results haven't been there and it's been the hardest I've had to work and the most I've struggled.

"But I'm working to get out of that and I feel like I've been a lot closer this last month. It's just kind of fine-tuning it.

"So in terms of specific goals, I need more consistent golf and also better golf. And to get myself in contention to win tournaments because I get comfortable when I am there, I just have had a really hard time getting myself there this year."

In one sense, Thomas is wrong there. Historically, he has been good in-contention, but from the Tour Championship last September to his victory at THE PLAYERS in March, he contended for a title nine times in 12 starts - and he only won that once at TPC Sawgrass.

And he also has just one top 10 finish in his last eight starts (and in those other seven appearances he was never in the top 10 all week).

His hope is that a return to the scene of his three shot victory 12 months ago will kick start his form.

"It's a great track," he said of TPC Southwind. "It's all right in front of you. I think it's one of those places that kind of stands over time, it's not a place that's going to change much each year.

"It's a great place. I'm glad we'll have fans back this year. Last year was a little weird with not having anybody, so I'm excited to hopefully defend my title, play well."

If Thomas is in something of a flux, let's take a look at what come of the other leading contenders had to say of the current state of their games.

Xander Schauffele on the Olympic dream

"Different time zone, different part of the world. Still really excited, just an overwhelming amount of positivity coming my way. Just obviously in a really good mood. My dad slept with the (gold medal) the first night. So I didn't even have it with me the day I won it. He was going to take it to San Diego, parade around with his friends, but I told him I had a little media to do and I'm sure everyone wanted to see the gold medal here."

Jordan Spieth on the course and his year

"I really like the greens, they're kind of very similar to what I grew up on. I like fast, slopey, grainy Bermuda. It's just overall a really nice test where at par 70 you don't necessarily see scores go extremely low and instead you've got to really golf your ball. I's been a really good season thus far, but, at the same time, I look back and I'm like, man, I could have had three or four wins. I'm obviously very pleased, but the part of me that's the perfectionist is wanting more."

Collin Morikawa on his TPC Southwind breakthrough last year

"This week last year kind of kickstarted a lot of what happened next. Learned a lot, just really made some strides, grip change was huge. That helped me win at the PGA. So I haven't played great here, but I have memories of some good shots. Life's in a great spot right now. I'm very happy, I'm playing well."

Dustin Johnson on the course he's won twice on

"A lot of success here, so yeah, I always love coming back here. I've got a lot of good memories. I feel like the course sets up well for me. It's a good track, you've got to hit a lot of good golf shots if you want to play well. I feel like my game's really close to being good. A lot of good work last week, feel pretty confident coming in this week."

READ MORE: McIlroy eyes victory in WGC-FedEx St. Jude after Olympics boost

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