New Straits Times


American takes over World No 1 ranking from Johnson


TOP-RANKED Justin Thomas achieved a career goal this month by becoming golf’s World No 1, but what the 25-year-old American truly yearns for is a long reign at the top.

Thomas, who won his first major title at last year’s PGA Championsh­ip, overtook Dustin Johnson on May 13 to become the 21st man to reach golf ’s summit since the rankings began in 1986.

Tiger Woods, a 14-time major winner, spent a record 683 weeks atop the rankings before being most recently dethroned in 2014. Johnson’s reign lasted 64 weeks. Only Woods, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and Rory McIlroy held it longer.

“It means a lot, but it’s something I want to have for a long time,” Thomas said. “Like D.J. has and Tiger did and other guys who have had it for a long time, that’s more of a goal of mine as opposed to just having it.

“That means I’m playing better than everybody else for an extended period of time. Get hot for a year or two, have it and then fall off the map, that doesn’t really mean a whole lot to me. I would much rather play well for another eight to 10 years and see how long I can have it.”

Thomas won five times in 2017, including both US PGA events in Hawaii and the CJ Cup in South Korea, and his runner-up finish at the Tour Championsh­ip was enough to win the tour playoff crown.

His run extended to this year with a February triumph at the PGA Honda Classic, although it was an 11th-place Players showing that lifted him to No 1.

“It’s an honour well deserved,” said 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus. “He has been playing great golf for a while now.”

Among the rewards of success for Thomas likely will be playing in his first Ryder Cup. He stands second on the US qualifying points list from which eight players will be named to a squad trying to retain the trophy against Europe in France in September.

That prospect has enticed Thomas to play in the European Tour’s French Open at Le Golf National starting June 28.

“I’m excited to see the course and go check it out a little bit,” Thomas said. “It’s not like a Ryder Cup or a Presidents Cup in the States where we can just pop over and play when we want.

“I’m hoping to get some good vibes from it and learn a few things about the course. It is always good to help provide any informatio­n that might help our team prepare.”

“I’m sure the field is going to be tremendous, especially being a Ryder Cup venue,” Thomas said.

 ??  ?? Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas

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