Justin Thomas finishes third at Sentry Tournament of Champions despite ‘a lot of other things on my mind last night’

Justin Thomas started the final round of his Sentry Tournament of Champions title defense four shots back of the lead but with his mind in an unusual place. Usually, the 13-time PGA Tour winner would be thinking of one thing and one thing only: how to win.

Instead, a mistake crowded his brain.

Thomas used a homophobic slur in the third round at Kapalua after he missed a short putt for par on the fourth hole. He has since spoken openly about his remorse at the word that escaped his mouth in a moment of frustration.

After Thomas finished a shot out of the playoff between Harris English and Joaquin Niemann on Sunday – one that English ultimately won – he spoke briefly with Golf Channel and further addressed his error.

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“Obviously had a lot of other things on my mind last night,” Thomas said. “I mean, I apologized yesterday. I don’t need to explain myself. I clearly screwed up. I made a terrible, terrible judgment call. But I thought a lot last night that, we grow a lot as people over time. I wish that I could learn to grow a different way than the way that I chose to do it, but unfortunately it’s in the past and there’s nothing I can do about it now. And again, it definitely was a distraction out there today. But now I just get to take time going forward and try to become better because of it.”

Words aside, Thomas couldn’t be more pleased with the state of his golf, even if it didn’t produce a title in his first outing of 2021. Thomas, who closed with 66, was in the hunt much of Sunday, but missed key putts on Nos. 16 and 17 that ended up being the difference.

Before missing the par putt at No. 17, Thomas had been on a 27-hole bogey-free streak.

“I really, really stayed in the moment well, took it one shot at a time, just trying to make a lot of birdies. It got windy, it got harder, putted beautifully, drove it well, hit good irons.”

A year ago, Thomas won this tournament at 14 under. To finish third at 24 under a year later speaks to the quality of golf at Kapalua this week.

Thomas won a total of three times in the 2019-20 season and had five other top-5 finishes. In addressing that body of work at the start of the week, he noted that he wanted more out of his weekends – particularly on Sundays.

From here, Thomas will chart new territory on the European Tour later this month when he plays the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“It’s a good start and get a week off before going to Abu Dhabi, a place I’ve never been, so I’m excited for that,” he said.

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