J.T. not copying Bryson: ‘I hit it plenty far enough’

Justin Thomas has no intention of replicating Bryson DeChambeau’s path toward increased swing speed and massive distance off the tee.

“I’m going to look like a beach ball if I put on 40 pounds,” the 5-foot-10 Thomas said on Tuesday ahead of his title defense at this week’s CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. “I’m not going to put on 40 pounds. I don’t have the height to do that.”

DeChambeau has been the talk of the PGA Tour since returning from the sport’s three-month hiatus having put on 40 pounds in an effort to maximize his distance off the tee. He eschewed conventional wisdom by trying to overpower a U.S. Open course with little concern for the 6-inch rough, and the result was a six-shot victory at Winged Foot last month.

DeChambeau has risen to No. 5 in the world — two spots behind Thomas — and has said he plans to debut a 48-inch driver at the Masters next month in an effort to add even more distance off the tee at Augusta National.

“I can get stronger in different parts of my body that can help me hit it farther and gain some distance, but I hit it plenty far enough to win tournaments and do well,” Thomas said. “I just want some more speed. I feel like I’ve been good at having another gear, another 5 or 10 yards if I need it, but I don’t necessarily have that other 20.”

Thomas, 27, has a major title at the 2017 PGA Championship among his 13 career PGA Tour victories. He also has a FedEx Cup title under his belt and reached No. 1 in the world on two separate occassions.

With lofty career goals yet to achieve, Thomas is seeking longevity over the pursuit of maximum distance.

He said he was in the best shape of his life while working out five times a week during quarantine. Thomas returned to a busy schedule that included the FedEx Cup Playoffs and a pair of majors to go along with other big events in a three-month window.

Thomas said he had lost nearly 15 pounds by the end of the Tour Championship and was down to 151 pounds, which he called “a tough scene.”

“The absolute No. 1 thing is I’m continuing to stay injury free and I’m continuing to progress in a good direction in terms of staying healthy and staying fit,” he said. “But if I can do that while incorporating some more speed, then that’s big.”

Thomas will tee off on Thursday in one of the marquee groupings, paired with Brooks Koepka and Sungjae Im. Thomas and Koepka have combined to win each of the past three CJ Cups, although they were played on Jeji Island in South Korea. The event was moved to Shadow Creek this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can’t imagine being much farther apart or across the country than this,” Thomas said. “Even here at Shadow Creek, it has the same vibes and seeing the same people involved with the tournament.

“I even had some Korean barbecue for lunch yesterday, which was still incredible.”

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