AUGUSTA, Ga. (Reuters) – Justin Thomas knows his way around a golf course but that did not stop him from trying to learn some of the nuances of Augusta National from reigning Masters champion Tiger Woods and former winner Fred Couples during a practice session this week.
Thomas, who will make his fifth Masters start this week, knows it takes years of experience to fully grasp the many subtleties of Augusta National and tried to make the most out of his time with Woods and Couples on Monday.
“Tiger is less willing to give me information than Freddy is,” Thomas, 27, said during his pre-tournament news conference at Augusta National Golf Club on Tuesday.
“I know if I ask Freddy, he’ll answer, whereas Tiger this week probably won’t answer. But still, I just watch where they chip from and I pretty much follow them around.”
World number three Thomas has gotten into a yearly routine of playing practice rounds at Augusta National with five-times champion Woods and 1992 winner Couples.
While practicing with Woods and Couples, who have made a combined 56 Masters appearances, has not translated to success for Thomas at Augusta National he is not about to seek out new practice partners.
“There’s a reason they’ve been successful here, and they know how to get around here, they’ve played as often as they have,” said Thomas, who has never had a top-10 Masters finish.
“That being said, I feel like I know the course pretty well, too, but it definitely helps watching them go around here and kind of watch where they practise from because they know where to play the golf course.”
While Woods has struggled in the six events he has played since the PGA Tour resumed play in June after a three-month COVID-19 shutdown, Thomas said he would never count him out.
“Someone like him or Phil (Mickelson), I’d never take them out at a place like this,” said Thomas. “He knows this place so well and he knows that he has a big advantage, I think, over half the field before even teeing it up.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)