UA sports: Tide golfer Thomas going pro
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Jul 23, 2013 | 1967 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Justin Thomas (UA Athletics photo)
Justin Thomas (UA Athletics photo)
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Alabama golfer Justin Thomas has decided to leave college early and turn pro after two seasons with the Crimson Tide.

Thomas announced his decision Tuesday through Twitter.

“Very excited to say I’m turning pro after the Walker Cup in September,” Thomas tweeted. “Can’t wait to play against the best week in and week out!”

In an interview with The Star, Thomas said he’s known he was turning pro for a month or so, but wanted to keep it quiet in order to focus on tournaments.

Thomas helped lead the Tide to the 2013 NCAA men’s golf championship. Thomas said winning the national championship wasn’t the lone factor in his decision, but added it definitely helped.

“If we didn’t win it this year, there would have been some things left undone,” Thomas said. “That’s the reason I came to Alabama, to win a national championship. … That was the perfect way to go out.”

Thomas said he told his teammates and coaches after people began speculating about his potential move to the professional ranks.

“My teammates and coaches were all very excited for me which is nice,” Thomas said. “They were all really supportive. Coach (Jay) Seawell was very supportive and very gracious. I’ll always refer to him as ‘Coach.’ He’s become one of my best friends. Having him and the guys on the team made it hard to leave, but I was very fortunate to be able to spend time with those guys.”

Thomas leaves as one of the most decorated golfers in Alabama history. The Goshen, Ky., native arrived at Alabama as one of the consensus top-five recruits in the country and managed to live up to the hype.

As a true freshman, Thomas won the Nickalus Award (National Player of the Year) and the Phil Mickelson Award (National Freshman of the Year). He was a first-team PING All-American and Freshman All-American. Thomas became the first player in Alabama history to win his first career event.

As a sophomore, along with the national title, Thomas became just the second two-time first-team All-American in school history (Bud Cauley, 2009-11).

“I just hope I’m remembered as someone who made an impact,” he said. “Someone who showed a great commitment to his sport. I want to be seen as someone who represented Alabama golf well.”

Thomas will participate in two more tournaments before focusing on the Walker Cup in September.

Sports Writer Marq Burnett: On Twitter @Marq_Burnett.

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