'He's One Of The Best There Is' - Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson Hopeful Justin Thomas Can Turn His Game Around

US Ryder Cup skipper Zach Johnson is not unduly worried by Justin Thomas' dip in results this year

Zach Johnson and Justin Thomas side-by-side
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Thursday Justin Thomas shot an 11-over 82, the worst round of his Major career. There have been rare glimpses of the old Thomas this year but, generally, it's been a bit of a write-off whether that's down to injury or poor form.

The 30-year-old was a Major winner in 2022 but now there's a doubt over his Ryder Cup inclusion for Rome. As things stand he's all the way down in 75th on the FedEx money list and in 13th spot on the Ryder Cup standings. On the upside his Cup record is 6-2-1 and he's got the huge added benefit of having the perfect partner in Jordan Spieth.

This week he's sharing a house with the US skipper Zach Johnson and the captain is confident that Thomas can turn things around – on Friday Thomas bounced back bravely with a level-par 71 to show some hint some brighter times ahead.

"As a friend and room mate, I'm concerned just because he's my buddy and I know what he's capable of and that sort of thing. Obviously he's a stalwart in that event, those kind of moments like that, he's one of the best there is," said Johnson.

"This game is really hard. There's going to be peaks. There's going to be some valleys. Let's hope whatever sort of non-peak he's in, it's short. I know he's got a great team. I love his coaches. I love how he works. Guys with talent like that aren't afraid to put their work in the dirt. It's just a matter of when, not if. He's too darned good. I might be slightly concerned, like I said, as a friend, but I'm not worried about him because I know what he does and I know what he's capable of."

Qualification for the US team will conclude on August 20 after the BMW Championship with six players securing their spots and Johnson rounding out the team with the other half dozen.

The hope, for Johnson, is that Thomas and others can turn things quickly around and make his job a lot more straightforward.

"There's still some golf left. I know he's got some plans to play some more golf. It fuels him. You can tell he wants to be there. My hope is that JT and all those guys, I want all those guys in good form. I want them to make my decision really difficult."

Zach Johnson and Justin Thomas

(Image credit: Getty Images)

As for Thomas himself he's hoping that his record – along with an upturn in form – will secure a third Ryder Cup appearance.

"I would like to think that my record is my best argument. I love the team events. I thrive in them. I just enjoy it. Playing with a partner could kind of ease me a little bit, relax me. I hate even having to hope for a pick. This is the first time since I first qualified that I've had to rely on a captain's pick, and it's not fun, especially when you're trending the wrong way when other people are trending toward it.

"I'm hitting a lot of good shots. I'm just making so many bonehead mistakes and crazy things happening, and I'll be fine. I want to make the Ryder Cup more than anything. I'm probably honestly trying too hard to do it. It reminds me a lot of my first or second year on Tour. 

"I'm trying to look at the big picture. I'm trying to not focus too much on days like Thursday – you never want to do it in any event but it just sucks when it's the first round of a Major and you have no chance any more."

Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.