“It is bizarre, just for me, he’s the reason why I love golf so much,” Thomas said on Wednesday. “He is the person that when I was seven and eight, nine years old, putting by myself on the putting green, in my head I was making this putt to beat him.“So it’s, again, like a lot of guys on our team, I’m happy to have him on my team, as opposed to playing against him in stroke-play events.”Thomas recounted initiating his relationship with Woods, who was out injured at the time, a couple of years ago at the Masters.“He wasn’t playing, so he was going to be helpful,” explained Thomas, who briefly rose to world number one in May before Dustin Johnson reclaimed the top ranking.“You know, it’s not like it was this year or whenever he plays. His mouth kind of closes a little bit or how much information he gives out is not quite as much.“So I tried to take advantage of that time when he was hurt as much as I possibly could. I think during that process, I wanted to be there for him as a friend, or as somebody, because the life he lives is so different than everybody else.“If he gets bored, he can’t go out in public and do something without getting harassed. Myself, Rickie (Fowler), other guys in Jupiter (Florida), we wanted to hang out with him and we wanted to do whatever he wanted to do.“So to be able to have that friendship relationship with him is cool. I’m happy to have him on my team.”While Thomas is entering his first Ryder Cup as a player, the overall experience is not a new one for last year’s PGA Tour player of the year.“It’s so different, being in a team event and everything, but this is something that I’ve been looking forward to, something I’ve wanted to accomplish since I was a little kid,” he said.“I was very fortunate to go to some Ryder Cups when I was a kid with my dad working for the PGA, so I’ve seen three in person, one of which was in Wales when I played the Junior Ryder Cup (in 2010).“So I’ve seen it from the other side of the ropes and I’m very, very happy and excited to be on this side of the ropes.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Justin Thomas is one of three players on the US team set to make their Ryder Cup debut in France © AFP / Eric FEFERBERGSAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France, Sep 26 – Justin Thomas said his friendship with Tiger Woods still strikes him as “bizarre” having drawn his golfing inspiration from the 14-time major champion in his youth.The 25-year-old Thomas, last year’s US PGA champion, will be making his Ryder Cup debut at Le Golf National as Woods returns to the team for the first time since 2012.
By Elliott Teaford STAFF WRITER On the day after he torched the Seattle SuperSonics by scoring 16 of his 20 points in the third quarter of the Lakers’ exhibition victory in Bakersfield, Kobe Bryant did the same to his teammates Friday in practice. “He took a personal challenge and he pretty much destroyed all the teams we put out there (against him),” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Playing and talking basketball the last two days seemed to be cathartic for Bryant, whose third-quarter surge led the Lakers to a 126-106 victory Thursday over Seattle. He spoke with reporters before and after the game and again following Friday’s workout. Normalcy prevailed for a second straight day. “I just play basketball, that’s all I’m going to do,” Bryant said. “I don’t pay attention to what people say. They get it wrong half the time anyway, so there’s no sense getting frustrated about something you can’t control. “I just focus on what I do best.” In other words, Bryant is committed to playing well for the Lakers for as long as he’s with the Lakers. Outside of a few wild rumors earlier in the week, there have been no indications that the Lakers are prepared to trade their superstar guard. Team owner Jerry Buss said last week he “would certainly listen” to offers for Bryant, which sparked a round of speculation that Bryant’s days with the Lakers were numbered. Bryant asked to be traded in May and has not rescinded his demand. Bryant seemed more concerned Friday about a case of tendinitis in his left knee than with knocking down each and every rumor. “When it’s time to play, I’m ready to play,” Bryant said. “I practice as much as I can and work extremely hard. Health is always first and foremost. It’s just a long season and you should take care of your body.” Bryant also praised several teammates for their fine play in Thursday’s victory. “I was proud of the way Ronny played,” he said of Ronny Turiaf, who had 13 points. “Andrew (Bynum, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds,) had a great game. Chris Mihm had a great game. I’m very excited, particularly for Chris (11 points on 5-for-5 shooting) because he’s had a long journey back (from ankle surgery).” Bryant’s new role Jackson plans to use Bryant in his familiar role as a scorer, but also as a playmaker this season. It’s a bit of a departure, but Bryant said he’s happy to tackle a new role if it helps to diversify the Lakers’ offense. “I’ll do both,” he said. “I’m more of a designated facilitator, so I’ll do both.” Said Jackson: “I don’t know how well it’s going to work. We’re trying it out now to see how it works. Obviously, there are situations where he’s placed in the scoring position and he embraces that wholeheartedly.” Odds and ends The Lakers face the Charlotte Bobcats tonight at 7:30 at Staples Center, their second exhibition in a span of six in nine days. They also play Sunday against either the Clippers or Phoenix Suns, who play today at 4:30. … Lamar Odom (left shoulder surgery) remains confident he will be fit enough to play opening night. If not, he’ll be content to take the floor “when it’s ready.” … Mihm needed several stitches to mend a cut on his lip after Kwame Brown cracked him with an elbow in practice. … Bynum, who turns 20 next week, said he’s grown an inch since last season and stands 7-foot-1. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! read more