Is Justin Thomas the best golfer in the world? He was today. – ESPN
“No reason to answer that,” he said, justifiably perturbed. “I can’t win with the answer to that question.”
He right, of course. That kind of question is a classic trap. If Thomas agrees and doesn’t live up to it on Sunday, it will be used against him forever, the same way Patrick Reed was mocked after saying he was a Top 5 player in the world. If he balks and deflects, it looks like he lacks the steely self-confidence to be truly great. He can’t win. So, in addition to all the other impressive things he did Saturday, I’ll tip my cap to his media savvy. Such maturity is clearly one of the reasons he’s in the final group at the U.S. Open, trailing Brian Harman by just a stroke at 11-under par.
Still, a part of me believes the question is fair — even if Thomas can’t answer it. Thomas isn’t the best player in the world, week in, week out. But when everything is clicking… You can make a good case that Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day or Jordan Spieth are the stronger all-around golfers, and maybe always will be. But Thomas just might have a little Johnny Miller in him, the man whose U.S. Open record he displaced on Saturday.
Miller wasn’t Jack Nicklaus, or even Lee Trevino. His career, ultimately, pales in comparison to theirs. But on the right day, in the right round, Miller could blaze like a comet. He once said he thought he was a better iron player than Tiger Woods, and even if that sounds like blasphemy, Miller could at least make it an argument. Not many guys could even have that argument. Miller couldn’t touch Nicklaus’ or Woods’ consistency, but his best might have been a hair better than their best. He couldn’t conjure it up enough, but when he did, Miller was fearless.