KAPALUA, Hawaii – Justin Thomas, the 54-hole leader of the SBS Tournament of Champions by two shots, woke up early Sunday morning and there was only one thing that immediately popped into his mind.
“It’s Sunday, the game’s tomorrow,” he said.
No, Thomas didn’t think at all about the 18 holes in front of him, or that Hideki Matsuyama, the game’s hottest player, was only two shots behind. Thomas only thought about Alabama playing Clemson in college football’s national championship game.
“I swear,” he said. “I was nervous. Then I was laying there a little bit longer and then today (the final round at Kapalua) came to mind. I was like ‘man, we play a national championship tomorrow. We’ve got to win this game.’”
Thomas, 23, grew up outside Louisville, Ky., and attended the University of Alabama for two years before turning professional in 2013. He won six tournaments for the Crimson Tide and was on the team that won the NCAA Championship four years ago.