Justin Thomas feeling the hometown love in opening round of the PGA Championship

Justin Thomas knew playing the PGA Championship in his hometown was going to be special.But even the two-time major champion was a bit surprised after his first round of 2-under-par 69 on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club. He had five birdies and three bogeys during the round.And there were a lot of waves to folks cheering for him and yelling his name.“It’s been a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s weird, it’s not that I didn’t think it would be enjoyable, but I thought I would be way more nervous. I was nervous on the first tee today, but it’s just fun. To be honest, I feel like I’ve never had this many people root for me before. So it’s a pretty good feeling, to be perfectly honest.“I wish we had more tournaments in Louisville because I like this. Yeah, balancing the nerves and the excitement and having zero idea where the ball was going because of the sun, it was a strange opening tee shot.” The St. Xavier High School graduate was seven when Tiger Woods beat Bob May in a playoff at Valhalla in the 2000 PGA. He was 15 when the U.S. team won the Ryder Cup at the same venue.Thomas watched both of those events at Valhalla and said they were key in his upbringing around the game.“I obviously don’t remember a lot, being seven years old,” Thomas said with a smile earlier this week. “But I remember just being probably like inspired, being very in awe. I just hadn’t been to anything that big. I mean, the energy that week was crazy. . . Not that you know what you want to do when you’re seven years old, but I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to play golf.”Thomas is hoping there’s a better round out there for him on Friday.“I felt like I played better than I scored. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. Felt a lot of great things out there, a lot of positive encouragement,” he said. “I mean, it doesn’t help when you’re not making many putts in the sense of you feel like you’re not playing that well, but when you’re playing with one of the easiest 9-unders you’ve ever seen, it makes you feel like you’re shooting a million. “I wasn’t really paying attention much to leaderboards and whatnot, but when I looked up and saw where I was at, I felt a little bit better about how I was making my way around the course compared to the field. Yeah, I easily could have shot four or five shots better today, but I’m proud of how I played the back nine to hang in there.”Thomas will tee up for the second round on Friday at 1:18 p.m.

Justin Thomas knew playing the PGA Championship in his hometown was going to be special.

But even the two-time major champion was a bit surprised after his first round of 2-under-par 69 on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club. He had five birdies and three bogeys during the round.

And there were a lot of waves to folks cheering for him and yelling his name.

“It’s been a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s weird, it’s not that I didn’t think it would be enjoyable, but I thought I would be way more nervous. I was nervous on the first tee today, but it’s just fun. To be honest, I feel like I’ve never had this many people root for me before. So it’s a pretty good feeling, to be perfectly honest.

“I wish we had more tournaments in Louisville because I like this. Yeah, balancing the nerves and the excitement and having zero idea where the ball was going because of the sun, it was a strange opening tee shot.”

The St. Xavier High School graduate was seven when Tiger Woods beat Bob May in a playoff at Valhalla in the 2000 PGA. He was 15 when the U.S. team won the Ryder Cup at the same venue.

Thomas watched both of those events at Valhalla and said they were key in his upbringing around the game.

“I obviously don’t remember a lot, being seven years old,” Thomas said with a smile earlier this week. “But I remember just being probably like inspired, being very in awe. I just hadn’t been to anything that big. I mean, the energy that week was crazy. . . Not that you know what you want to do when you’re seven years old, but I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to play golf.”

Thomas is hoping there’s a better round out there for him on Friday.

“I felt like I played better than I scored. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. Felt a lot of great things out there, a lot of positive encouragement,” he said. “I mean, it doesn’t help when you’re not making many putts in the sense of you feel like you’re not playing that well, but when you’re playing with one of the easiest 9-unders you’ve ever seen, it makes you feel like you’re shooting a million.

“I wasn’t really paying attention much to leaderboards and whatnot, but when I looked up and saw where I was at, I felt a little bit better about how I was making my way around the course compared to the field. Yeah, I easily could have shot four or five shots better today, but I’m proud of how I played the back nine to hang in there.”

Thomas will tee up for the second round on Friday at 1:18 p.m.

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