Defending FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas believes he will need to win one of the play-off events to achieve something even Tiger Woods never managed.
While Woods (2007, 2009) is the only player to win the overall FedEx Cup title more than once, Thomas can this season become the first to win back-to-back titles – and the bonus of $10 million (£7.7m).
Thomas has won three times on the PGA Tour’s wraparound 2017-2018 season, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, and was sixth in defence of his US PGA Championship title on his last start.
The 25-year-old is just 83 points behind world No 1 Dustin Johnson in the current standings and is keen to at least maintain his position for the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta, where the top five know that victory at East Lake would secure the overall title regardless of other results.
“I understand how important these play-offs are and have thought about it a couple of times,” Thomas said ahead of the first play-off event, the Northern Trust at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
“You really have to win in the play-offs. You have to win one of these four events, plain and simple. Atlanta is a little bit more preferred than the others but I’m in a position where I can play well and hopefully maintain my spot, if not drop too much, because everyone’s main goal is to be in that top five come Atlanta and you can control your own destiny. These first three events are very important and you just need to treat it like I do every other tournament and try to give myself a chance to win.”
Thomas won the second play-off event last year and was runner-up to Xander Schauffele in the Tour Championship to claim the overall title, a situation which still rankles.
“I’m still pretty mad I didn’t win that tournament,” the world No 3 added. “18 [at East Lake] is one of the easier holes on the course, it’s a driver, five iron for me and I had a 30-footer for birdie.
“I should have birdied that to have a chance in a play-off so it still bothers me. I’d take a second place in that tournament every year if it meant I won the FedEx Cup every year, but I’d like a first place in the FedEx Cup more.”