Why are Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods friends? Real reason behind the golf legends' friendship explored

The 150th Open - Previews
The two golfers have been friends for a long time

Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods have one of the most unique and special relationships in sports. It's not often that two athletes who go on the field of play every time and try to defeat each other are such close friends. There aren't team events on the PGA Tour, so the two were always antagonists to each other on the green, but their friendship remains steadfast.

Thomas entered the PGA Tour in 2013, well after Woods did. The latter entered back in 1996, so he was the elder statesman by the time Thomas arrived. That seems to be a big part of why they're so close.

Justin Thomas is like a brother to Tiger Woods

Woods told Golf Channel that Thomas fits right into his family:

"We have become so close that I think Charlie's like Justin's little brother he never had and Justin has become the little brother I never had. We are extremely close with the family and we do a lot of things together, and to be able to have that experience tomorrow again.
"You know, we don't want them wearing that belt again, so we are going to give it our best. Christmas dinner wasn't quite as pleasurable last year as it hopefully will be this year."
The 150th Open - Previews
The 150th Open - Previews

For Thomas, the older golfer has been a key mentor in helping him grow. He's been blunt and straightforward about what Thomas lacks, but he's better for it, per Golf Channel:

“I also wouldn’t have wanted it to be like, ‘No, man, everything is great, you’re doing awesome. That would have been like, ‘Now you’re lying to me.’ I mean, you want to hear the harsh stuff. I think that also makes him a good mentor.”

According to Golf.com, the relationship with Woods is something the golfer could never have imagined when he was still an amateur:

“He’s meant a lot, man. I just respect him so much. I’d looked up to him and his golf game and how he won and how he went about it — now getting to know him just his preparation and how hard he works.”

Jon Rahm told Golf Digest that there's not a single golfer closer to Woods than his younger friend:

“I think there's only one man in this field that hears advice from Tiger because I've asked before and I get nothing. So, you might need to ask Justin.”

Per Golf Channel, Woods' love for his friend hasn't gotten in the way of his competitive drive, as noted:

"Are there a lot of other things he probably hasn't told me? Yeah, because he knows that he still likes golf and wants to beat me when we're playing. But I think just being there as a friend is most important as a mentor, but, yeah, kind of pushing each other along the way type thing."

While it's unclear how many more years he has left on the PGA Tour due to age and health, it's clear that his relationship with the game and one of its best golfers will stay strong.

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Edited by Piyush Bisht