Thomas prepares to begin his sophomore season

There are not a lot of golfers out there who can have the same type of success in their first year of college play as Alabama golfer Justin Thomas did in his freshman year last season.

In his first year at the Capstone, he won the Jack Nicklaus Award, which goes out to the national player of the year. He also won the Phil Mickelson Award, which goes to the nation’s top freshman, and was named a Ping first team All-American, a Freshman All-American, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.

Last season, Thomas also captured the Fred Haskins Award which goes to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate golfer. Haskins award winners have gone on to compete in 42 Ryder Cups, win 28 majors and win 250 PGA tour events. Past winners of the Haskins Award consist of Arizona State’s Phil Mickelson, Stanford’s Tiger Woods and UAB’s Graeme McDowell.

In 2012, the Goshen, Ky., native had nine top-10 finishes and six top-5 finishes in 12 starts last season, and helped the Crimson Tide reach the National Championship match last year against the University of Texas. He also set the school scoring record with an average score of 70.44

“I learned a lot from it,” Thomas said. “It was a great year for me; I think I learned a lot mentally and just with game and coaches helping with the start of my collegiate career.

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In order to have a successful season and possibly return back to the national championship match, Thomas plans on not putting extra pressure on himself and putting the last season behind him.

“I think if I put that pressure on myself, I just make things worse not only for myself but for the team as well, which is most important,” Thomas said. “What happened last year is great and a lot of fun, but it literally has nothing to do with what is going on this season.”

Over the summer, Thomas played in a few amateur tournaments to help him gain the experience and prepare him for this season. The biggest tournament Thomas played in was the Palmer Cup where he represented the United States.

“It is a special honor to be able to play for your country,” head coach Jay Seawell said. “The Palmer Cup was a great experience and has helped Justin develop into a better golfer.”

With the season starting this Sunday, Thomas and the Tide are looking forward to possibly avenging last season’s national championship defeat.

“I’m just really looking forward for the season to start,” Thomas said. “It feels like it’s been forever since we played a college event, I’m excited for things we can do this season.”

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