Justin Thomas arrived at Austin Country Club on Sunday knowing he could end the day as the new world No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
All he had to do was beat Bubba Watson in the semifinals of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, then manage to beat either Kevin Kisner or Alex Noren in the final, and he would become the 21st No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking since it was created in April 1986.
Thomas shouldn't have found out that news. The two-time winner this season admitted after losing soundly to Watson by a 3-and-2 margin in the semifinals that the idea of being No. 1 in the world excited and distracted him from the tasks at hand in the match play.
“I haven't had such a hard time not thinking about something so much. And that really sucked,” Thomas said. “I couldn't stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest. And I think you're constantly getting questions about it with the media. But I need to be mentally stronger than that and understand that it's just a match.”
Thomas said to NBC he should've put his phone away and not read anything about himself on Saturday night.
Now, Thomas heads to the Masters with an opportunity to become No. 1 in the world and win a second-consecutive major in the process.
“In the end it might be a good thing going to Augusta without that [world No. 1]. I get to go do what I was going to do and let [current world No. 1 Dustin Johnson] have all that pressure,” Thomas laughed.
If Thomas wants to get to No. 1 in the world, a win will do for certain, but he needs to finish at a minimum in the top five at Augusta National to reach No. 1 in the world.