Justin Thomas insists friendships will be put to the side if The Open comes down to a battle with close friends Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler.
Spieth is the defending champion at Carnoustie and Thomas the reigning US PGA champion, while Fowler is seeking a first major title after several near misses, including a runners-up finish to Patrick Reed in April’s Masters.
The trio are such good friends that they go on holiday together and Fowler, who finished fifth, was among the first to congratulate Thomas when he lifted the Wanamaker Trophy at Quail Hollow last August.
“It is a very unique group of us, I guess you could say,” Thomas said. “Obviously we want to beat each other’s brains in. I never want to lose to any of my friends, especially my best friends.
“As weird as it is, sometimes it’s harder losing to your closest friends than it is someone you don’t even know, whether it’s bragging rights or whatever it is, but it is a weird feeling.
“Then again, like last year when I didn’t play well [in the Open] and missed the cut, I was pulling for Jordan to win. You want to see one of your friends win if you can’t.”
Thomas finished 53rd on his Open debut in 2016 and missed the cut at Royal Birkdale last year, but believes that is not a fair reflection of his abilities.
“Two years ago I was on the bad side of the draw but then last year I just had two terrible holes that caused me to miss the cut,” the 25-year-old world number two added.
“I feel like I’m a good links player although I don’t have the results to show it. I played well at Chambers Bay in the US Amateur which is a links-style course and I truly enjoy the creativity required.
“The Open is a very special event I hope to get at least once or twice in my career. It would mean a lot. I can’t necessarily put it into words, it’s one of those things you can’t describe unless it happens.
“I’ve always felt this would be one of my favourite wins as a player because it takes such a wide variety of shots and such a complete game to win here.”