DUBLIN, Ohio – After finally reaching the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, Justin Thomas was so excited he couldn’t sleep.
Thomas was high above the Florida skies following a T-11 finish at The Players Championship when Dustin Johnson’s result at the same event ensured that Thomas would ascend to No. 1 for the first time in his career. While it wasn’t as climactic as the climbs of Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Johnson, all of whom reached No. 1 for the first time with a tournament victory, Thomas didn’t care much about the path that ultimately brought him to the top.
What he did care about, though, was arriving at the destination. While the world rankings typically refresh each week in the early morning hours on Monday, Thomas explained that he didn’t go to bed after leaving TPC Sawgrass before checking the new standings online and seeing his name in the No. 1 position.
“I ended up staying up late enough to where I waited to refresh it and saw it. And it was pretty cool,” Thomas said. “Seeing every other golfer in the world behind my name was a pretty fun thing.”
Thomas is now in his third week as world No. 1, and this week’s Memorial Tournament represents his first opportunity to tee it up as the top-ranked player in the world. Having taken the last two weeks off, he feels “physically well and mentally fresh” as he gets set for his final prep before the U.S. Open.
While Thomas was all smiles in the interview room Wednesday, he admitted that reaching the top spot in the world rankings felt a bit different than winning a tournament.
“It’s odd, because nothing comes with it,” Thomas said. “Like, when you win a tournament, you get a trophy, you get a lot of money, you do a press conference afterwards. Whereas I think I was in the middle of flying home when D.J. finished and I had been told, and it was like, ‘OK, I’m almost home.’”
Thomas had two prior opportunities this year to surpass Johnson at No. 1, notably at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play Championship when he needed to reach the finals but instead finished fourth. Having reiterated his desire to not only reach No. 1 but maintain the top spot for an extended period, Thomas confessed to taking a screen shot of the rankings page during those early hours when he finally, officially, got to No. 1.
“Why wouldn’t you?” Thomas said.