Justin Thomas said he got goosebumps after hearing Rory McIlroy's impassioned defence of the golfer ahead of the Ryder Cup.
The American, 30, is getting in some much-needed reps at the Fortinet Championship ahead of the contest between Europe and the United States in a few weeks' time.
Thomas fared well in his first start since missing out on the postseason at the Wyndham Championship.
After signing for a second round of 67 in Napa, California, Thomas was asked about the comment's McIlroy made about his Ryder Cup pick.
Thomas was selected as one of captain Zach Johnson's six wildcards and the decision has received a lot of criticism owing to his poor season.
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He added: "Because, in my opinion, being a European and knowing that I have to face some of these guys, honestly there are other guys on that team that I'd rather face than JT.
"So, to me it was a no-brainer. Even though he's not had the best year and he's struggled to perform, JT's still one of the first guys that you put down on that tee sheet for the U.S."
McIlroy also said that comparing Thomas to Ian Poulter does the two-time major champion a disservice.
If you're going to compare him to anyone it should be Sergio Garcia, McIlroy said.
"Just in terms of that fire and that passion," he said.
Thomas said he wasn't aware of McIlroy's staunch defence, but took it as a compliment.
He told Golf Channel:
Rory McIlroy's thinks Justin Thomas' Ryder Cup pick was a 'no-brainer' and the criticism over his inclusion was unwarranted.— GolfMagic (@GolfMagic) September 16, 2023
This is what JT had to say: ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/zmY8GzPrwz
Thomas got the better of McIlroy in the Sunday singles in 2018 at Le Golf National.
The back-and-forth battle came to an anticlimactic end after McIlroy drove his golf ball into the fairway bunker on 18 then hit the lip with his approach and saw his golf ball find a watery grave.
McIlroy defeated Xander Schauffele 3&2 last time out at Whistling Straits but Europe were annihilated 19-9.
Thomas beat Tyrrell Hatton 4&3.
The 2023 Ryder Cup takes place over 29 September - 1 October.
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- Zach Johnson already handed one 'firm no' by Team USA ahead of Ryder Cup
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