'I knew Thomas would win a major – he had the 'it' factor'
Four months ago Scott Strohmeyer nearly won the Sanderson Farms Championship having holed a bunker shot on the third play-off hole in the Monday qualifier after also having gone through the Thursday pre-qualifier.
In the end he came up just short in a tie for 4th despite not having any status on the PGA Tour after a week where he constantly launched it off the tee – his biggest bomb was an effort of 374 yards.
His other claim to fame was that he was Justin Thomas’ room-mate at Alabama and the two of them were part of the Crimson Tide’s victorious NCAA Championship effort in 2013. The previous year Alabama were beaten by Texas 3-2 in a final where Jordan Spieth got the better of Thomas.
As well as being individually brilliant how good was he as a team-mate?
Justin was a great team-mate and team player. When you have somebody that has as much talent as he does, it’s easy to get wrapped up in yourself and putting your own interests first.
Justin didn’t have that problem. He always had a ‘team first’ mentality and his big motivation was for us to win as many team tournaments and championships as we could. To me, that speaks volumes as to the type of person that he was; very selfless.
Everyone on a college first team is an exceptional player, what set Justin apart?
Justin was really good at everything. During my time at Alabama, we had a lot of good players on the team. We had a lot of good ball strikers, putters and chippers.
Justin was just good at it all and didn’t really have a weakness in his game. To me his greatest strength was his ability to get the ball in the hole; it just seemed to come so easy to him. To me, that is definitely what set him apart from everybody else.
Was he tidy?
Justin was very tidy. He was a great room-mate.
What did you think when you first saw him swing a club?
It’s kind of a funny story but the first time I saw him swing a club was at the US Amateur at Chambers Bay. He and I ended up having to play against each other and I walked away from that match being extremely impressed with his ability to hit golf shots under pressure.
I actually was three or four up with five holes left and he essentially birdied every single hole coming in to send it to extra holes. I still give him a hard time about beating him that week though.
How strong is he mentally? He’s doing all this at a very young age.
Justin is obviously very strong mentally. You don’t accomplish the things that he has without having a very strong mind. I think the thing that has made him the strongest mentally, is just his determination and his will to win and never be satisfied.
What was the most impressive thing you’ve seen him do on a golf course?
The most impressive thing I’ve seen him do was in the US Amateur at Chambers Bay, when we were playing against each other. On hole 15, a par-3 I believe, I want to say he hit a hybrid in there to about four feet in a situation where if he didn’t make birdie he was going to lose the match. That was impressive and obviously something I haven’t forgotten all these years later.
Was he always going to be a major winner/always have that star quality?
I definitely believe he was going to be a major winner. To me, he just had that ‘it’ factor. He was always really good at being able to handle the big moments. And when you have somebody that has as much talent and drive as he does, along with the ability to handle themselves under pressure, you have someone who will win major championships — it’s just a matter of when. Obviously, Justin has proven that true and I look forward to seeing what else he is capable of doing in the years to come.
Tell us two things we might not know about him?
That’s a tough question. I think the first one is that he’s really good at Mario Kart.
Our last year of school together, we played a lot of Mario Kart and he got to be really good. The second one is something that most people who know or have met Justin probably already know.
Justin is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He genuinely cares about people and I can promise you that his generosity and caring personality is 100 per cent genuine; it’s not something that is for show.
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Images courtesy of Scott Strohmeyer via Tracy Wilcox/Golfweek