March 26, 2018 / 3:34 AM / a month ago

Golf: Thomas says he could not stop thinking about number one ranking

(Reuters) - Justin Thomas admitted to becoming consumed with thoughts of taking over the world number one ranking before losing his semi-final at the WGC-Dell Match Play on Sunday.

Feb 15, 2018; Pacific Palisades, CA, USA; Justin Thomas plays his shot from the 12th tee during the first round of the Genesis Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports/Files

Thomas would have overtaken fellow American Dustin Johnson to become top dog in the rankings for the first time had he made the final at Austin Country Club in Texas.

Instead, Thomas lost 3&2 to Bubba Watson and remained number two.

It was a case of lesson learned, he said.

“Too much, honestly,” Thomas told Golf Channel, when asked how much he had been thinking of the ranking.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it last night. It would have been a good night to put my phone away and not read anything.

“It’s just a learning experience. I need to handle it better.”

Feb 9, 2018; Pebble Beach, CA, USA; Dustin Johnson speaks to the media following the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports/Files

Thomas had little left in the tank after his clash with Watson, who went on to beat Kevin Kisner 7&6 in the final, and his match for third place against Alex Noren was something of an anti climax with the Swede winning 5&3.

“I’m pretty tired,” Thomas said. “It’s so hard to keep it going this afternoon when you know you don’t have a chance to win.

“I definitely wasn’t very hard to beat this afternoon.”

Thomas, who won the most recent major, the PGA Championship last August, will have a week to refresh before the April 5-8 U.S. Masters, where he will be one of the favourites.

Perhaps not having the world top ranking on his shoulders would ease the pressure there, he thought.

Mar 5, 2017; Mexico City, MEX; Dustin Johnson (left) and Justin Thomas (right) talk on the first hole during the final round of the WGC - Mexico Championship golf tournament at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports/Files

“In the end it might be a good thing to go into Augusta without that and let D.J. have all that pressure,” he said.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, Nick Mulvenney

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