MEMFIS, Tenn. – Justin Thomas sat down in the chair, exhaled, and then did his best to keep his eyes open. He might have just said that the media questions he asked put him to sleep. But he does not have the energy for humor.
A long stretch of golf all over the world has taken its toll.
Thomas is one of 19 players on the field this week at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational who made the journey across 14 time zones to get from Tokyo to Memphis after taking part in the Men’s Olympic Golf Tournament.
‘I got into bed at 8:30 [Monday] night and I woke up like 11:30 or 11:45 [p.m.] with all my lights on. I didn’t even make it long enough to turn off my lights; so I was clearly exhausted, ”said Thomas, the defending champion at TPC Southwind. ‘I woke up in the middle of the night, was probably 10 minutes awake. I was not satisfied when my alarm went off at 06:30 [a.m.]. It was right when I was on the move, but I’m starting to drag a bit now. ‘
Thomas does not seek sympathy. This is simply the reality for high-level golfers this time of year who played a West Coast US Open, traveled to the UK for The Open (and also a few in the Scottish Open), and then returned home to the United States. to Japan for the Olympics and is now back in America – with a busy piece ahead.
Thomas, who is in fifth place in the world, posted his surprise on social media about the amount of travel he has been through lately.
From July 4, Thomas outlined his travels that took him from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Detroit to Edinburgh for the Scottish Open; from Edinburgh to London for The Open on 11 July; from London to West Palm Beach on July 18; from West Palm Beach to Atlanta to Tokyo on July 24; and Monday from Tokyo to Memphis.
Yes, 23,587 miles.
‘After I saw the post [from Thomas] and to see how many kilometers we have walked all over the world, it’s a lot, ” he said Collin Morikawa, who played in the Scottish Open the week before winning the Open in England.
‘I did exactly the same schedule, and it’s hard. But that’s what we’re doing. That is our job. good work throughout the Scottish, The Open, week off to get as much rest as possible. ”
Morikawa wins the Open for his second major title and then ends in a draw for the fourth at the Olympics and loses a bronze medal in a play-off match.
Even without the Olympics, it’s already a crowded schedule. With The Open, a World Golf Championship event and three FedEx Cup playoffs, it has already won five major events in eight weeks. Throw in the Olympics, and it’s six.
Add to that the U.S. Open four weeks before the Open, plus the fact that most players competed in it at least once, and it was a busy summer amid intense heat- with the exception of The Open, which is still in full swing. played warmer. normal weather for England.
While a WGC is a big tournament, there is at least a more relaxed atmosphere. Players do not have to worry about a cut. Everyone is paid. Yet there are few people who just want to show up. They want to compete.
“Normally, when I come back from Asia, I feel absolutely exhausted. I feel dead,” Morikawa said. But so far, knocking on the wood, I have slept wonderfully, even returning from Tokyo. But I think it’s because I know I’m here to win. ”
Morikawa has already had a great year (a WGC win and a big win), so he can be excused if he was willing to recharge for the play-offs this week.
For others, it is an opportunity to run and maybe find some positive things after some struggling.
Neither Dustin Johnson neither Brooks Koepka participated in the Olympics after deciding not to play. No one is happy with a year that has come and gone without an important title. Johnson was on a confusing run and missed the track at the Masters and PGA Championships. He was not a solid contender for six months.
Koepka has experienced his moments, with high finishes at the PGA, the US Open and the Open, but he still misses something that could possibly give him a fifth major.
Rory McIlroy spent a good part of the year trying to find the shape with which he fell from number 1 in the world to 15th a year ago. He did win the Wells Fargo Championship in May, but there were more frustrations than victories.
“I think the Olympics were a big week for me because I played with more freedom there, and it clearly went well,” said McIlroy, who drew for the fourth time after falling out of the bronze medal match. has. played my best tournament I’ve played since the US Open, which was good. So this is the focus for me over the next few weeks: play with as much freedom as possible. That’s really it. ”
McIlory also had a hectic itinerary, playing in Scotland, England and Japan. He then returned home to South Florida for a day before returning to Memphis on Tuesday night.
“I feel like I’m used to it,” said McIlroy, 32, who has been a pro for 13 years. ‘It is clear that we have not traveled that much in the last year and a half due to COVID and international events. But it’s good. The only thing is to just try to get over the jet lag and over the [international] date line and come back again. This is probably the hardest thing.
“In terms of distance traveled, whether you’re on a plane for five hours or 14 or whatever, it’s the same at the end of the day. As long as you get enough rest.”
Which, of course, is the key. There is always some kind of reckoning when it comes to recovering from such a hectic time. And there is not much time left, with three more weeks to go before the FedEx Cup playoffs.