He may have been the only one who had any doubts.
Following a season that included five victories, his first major triumph at the PGA Championship and a runner-up finish to close the year at the Tour Championship and clinch the FedExCup, Justin Thomas still wasn’t sure he’d be voted the circuit’s Player of the Year.
“It’s something that I felt like I may win just because of Atlanta and how the year ended, but I knew how tight of a race it was going up until then and how many people had the opportunity or with one week to kind of change everything,” Thomas said on Wednesday.
In fact, it wasn’t until Thomas received a phone call from Tour commissioner Jay Monahan informing him he’d won the Jack Nicklaus Award, which is voted on by players, that the gravity of his season sunk in.
Thomas was the front-runner for the award heading into the playoffs, but Dustin Johnson, who won four times last season, and Jordan Spieth, a three-time winner including The Open, could have swayed the outcome had they won the FedExCup. The Tour does not reveal vote totals.
Congratulations to @JustinThomas34 on receiving the Jack Nicklaus Award for @PGATOUR Player of the Year!pic.twitter.com/hrJOzTHwMT
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) October 4, 2017
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Thomas, who was a member of the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team last week, won’t have much time to reflect on his historic season. He’s scheduled to play next week’s CIMB Classic, where he is the defending champion, followed by the new CJ Cup in South Korea.
When he does get a moment to reflect, it will likely be difficult picking out a single highlight moment. Thomas began the year winning in Malaysia, and then swept the Hawaiian swing with victories at the Tournament of Champions and Sony Open, where he opened his week with 59.
In June, Thomas shot a third-round 63 at Erin Hills to tie the lowest round in U.S. Open history, and at 9 under was the lowest score in relation to par.
Or maybe he’d choose his performance at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, where he won by two after beginning his week with a 73.
“That shot I hit on 17 at the PGA was probably the best shot I’ve ever hit in my life under those circumstances, and the same with the 3-wood on 18 at the U.S. Open on Saturday,” he said. “I don’t know, it’s such a great year and so many great moments that it’s nice to not be able to know which one.”
The bigger challenge, however, may be how he follows up his historic season. At East Lake, Thomas revealed his list of goals for the 2016-17 season, and said on Wednesday he hasn’t sat down yet to set new goals for next season.
“I’ll probably spend some time talking to Mr. Nicklaus about it or Tiger [Woods] because those are guys, those are the only people, or even Jordan [Spieth], those are the only people I know that have had such success in one season multiple times,” he said. “They’ve had to deal with resetting their goals and reevaluating.”