How a late-night text from his wife ‘hit home’ for struggling Justin Thomas

Three-photo collage of Justin Thomas on golf course

Justin Thomas received some mental game help from his wife recently.

Photos: Getty Images; Design: Braden Reed

Justin Thomas needed the question to be repeated. He motioned at some background noise.

The difficult-to-hear question was, in fact, difficult to hear. 

“You’re not used to struggling the way you have this year; golf’s a mental game,” a reporter began Wednesday at Detroit Golf Club. “How do you keep yourself sane with the frustration? How do you deal with the frustration?”

“Did you say how do you keep yourself sane?” Thomas said.   

“Yeah, yeah, golf’s a mental game, you know,” the reporter clarified. 

Thomas agreed. He eloquently went on to offer his remedy, too. It’s just that how we got here is all a bit stunning. 

Consider his stretch since the middle of May of 2022, when he won the PGA Championship. Five top 10s in 23 starts. A drop from fifth in the world rankings, to 17th. His Strokes Gained numbers this season on the PGA Tour are mostly fair — 24th in SG: Tee to Green; 72nd in SG: Off the Tee; 49th in SG: Approach the Green; ninth in SG: Around the Green — but he’s a ghastly 151st in SG: Putting. Two weeks ago, though, Thomas may have hit bottom. Almost literally. 

At the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club, he tied for 152nd out of 156 players, after rounds of 73 and 81. 

“It’s weird because I felt like I was playing the best I’ve played in a really long time this week, end of last week,” Thomas told multiple outlets afterward. “It’s a funny game, man. You know, it can leave you speechless, good and bad, and right now, it’s unfortunately the bad. Once I’m able to kind of reflect and figure out what I can learn and get better from, you know, it’ll end up good.

“But it sucks right now.”

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Then it didn’t. At last week’s Travelers Championship, Thomas tied for ninth, behind rounds of even-par 70, 64, 62 and 67. Which brings us to this week, at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

And his answer to the reporter’s question about the mental game. 

“It’s tough,” he said. “I work on it like I work on my wedge game. I practice it. I try to learn from it like I do every tournament. I think after it was done long enough and I was able to reflect, I learned a lot from the U.S. Open. I felt like I was playing — I know I was playing the best golf that I’ve played in a really long time. I mean, I’m talking two, three, four, five years. Because of that, my expectations got up and I fully expected to go win that golf tournament. I started — I was playing more golf swing than I was golf and that got in the way. 

“Last week, I wasn’t feeling great about my golf swing in the beginning of the week and I kind of said screw it, I’m just going to go out here and hit shots and play golf. I’ll use the practice rounds, the pro-am, the time on the range to really kind of hammer down the things in my swing mechanically I want to work on, but then when I’m out there, I just need to go play.”

There’s more. His wife, Jillian, texted.  

“All the credit to, honestly, my wife Wednesday night last week sent me a text that I woke up to Thursday that just kind of, it resonated to me and it really hit home better than anything I’ve heard,” he said. “Just basically said remember why you love this game and why you play this game and why you’re out there; just enjoy that and kind of take it in. It hit home for me. So last week, any kind of challenge I faced, anything good that happened, anything bad that happened, I just kind of remembered this is why I play professional golf and that’s, it’s why I’m doing this.” 

Notably, on Thursday, Thomas struggled again, shooting a four-over 76th, and he’s tied for 150th. 

Still, he answered the question on Wednesday. Still, there’s optimism. 

“You know, it’s like anything,” he said. “You just try to get better.” 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at