Such was the thrill that he stayed up late into the evening, waiting eagerly for the world ranking’s official website to refresh with his name perched at the top. “I waited to refresh it and saw it, and it was pretty cool. Seeing every other golfer in the world behind my name was a pretty fun thing,” said Thomas, who screenshot the page for safe keeping.
“It means a lot, but it's something I want to have for a long time, it's not something I just want to have once. To have it for a week and then be done with – like D.J. has and like Tiger did and other guys who have had it for a long time, that's more of a goal of mine as opposed to just having it. I would much rather play well for another eight to 10 years and see how long I can have it."
Power-hitter Johnson swiftly regained his top ranking with an 18th PGA TOUR victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, but it is very certain that Thomas will be fired up to challenge for the mantle throughout the remainder of the 2017-18 season and beyond.
Asian golf fans, in particular, those in Malaysia, have been fortunate to witness Thomas announce his arrival on the big stage. He claimed his breakthrough PGA TOUR title at the CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur in 2015 and returned 12 months later to repeat successfully as champion.
His second title in Malaysia provided the launch pad to a stunning 2016-17 PGA TOUR campaign which saw him winning four other tournaments including a first Major at the PGA Championship and culminating with the season-long and prestigious FedExCup crown and the Player of the Year award. “To win two in a row (in Malaysia) ranks right up there with my accomplishments,” said Thomas last year.
From initially displaying raw talent and tenacity – he’d bounced back from a double bogey with three straight birdies on the back nine to win by one from Adam Scott in Malaysia in 2015 – to soak up advice from golf great Jack Nicklaus who told him it pays to play conservatively when he does not have his ‘A’ game on given weeks. Thomas has become a complete golfer in his drive to become the best golfer on the planet.
His triumph at the inaugural CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in South Korea last October was another huge rubber stamp to his growing credentials and character. Battling fatigue, he dug deep into his reserves and ran on gas fumes to pip Marc Leishman in a playoff.