Justin Thomas backs Jon Rahm to handle world No 1 pressure at WGC

“There’s a certain amount of people who have been there [world No 1], but there’s only a small amount of people who have held it for a long amount of time and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Last Updated: 29/07/20 10:54am

Justin Thomas is chasing the world No 1 spot at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational

Justin Thomas is determined to secure a “long amount of time” at top of the world rankings and believes Jon Rahm will be able to deal with the added expectation as the new world No 1.

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The world No 3 can leapfrog the Spaniard and Rory McIlroy to top spot with a victory this week at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational, providing Rahm finishes lower than 14th and McIlroy ends the week outside the top two.

Thomas leads the FedExCup standings with six weeks of the season remaining but hasn’t topped the world rankings since his inaugural four-week stint in 2018.

Thomas is already a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season

Thomas is already a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this season

“It [world No 1] is extremely important,” Thomas said. “It’s never something that I won’t want to have and won’t be trying to get to if I’m not there.

“The thing about that is it’s not about getting there, it’s about how long can you stay there. There’s a certain amount of people who have been there, but there’s only a small amount of people who have held it for a long amount of time and that’s what I’m trying to do.

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“Anything longer than the two [sic: four] weeks that I had it or whatever it is. No, I mean, I would hope to have it, you know, a couple years by the end of my career.”

Rahm’s appearance in Memphis is his first since becoming only the second Spanish golfer in history to reach world No 1, following on from Seve Ballesteros, and Thomas has backed the 25-year-old to deal with any extra attention thrown his way.

Thomas finished tied-18th in his last start at the Memorial Tournament

Thomas finished tied-18th in his last start at the Memorial Tournament

“I thought it [world No 1] was a lot of pressure,” Thomas added. “I think it’s probably one of the first times I felt like no matter how I played, I was going to get an interview after my round.

“That’s something there’s maybe two people in the world that get that done, I would say Tiger [Woods] and probably Rory [McIlroy] and now probably Jon [Rahm].

Rahm set No 1 goal in lockdown

Jon Rahm looks ahead to his first tournament as the world No 1.

“Every time you finish a round, it doesn’t matter if you shoot 65 or 95, they want to talk to you and hear about it and that’s just the way that it is.

“I just remember being a little more nervous that week because it’s like, you know, all eyes are on you and you’re the best player in the world, so you feel like you should kind of play up to that. But he’s done well with pressure and nerves in the past, so I’m sure he’ll be just fine.”

Watch the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins on Thursday with Featured Groups from 5pm via the red button on Sky Sports Golf.



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