Thomas admits distraction of top ranking in Match Play loss

The thought of becoming world number one consumed Justin Thomas as he missed out on that honour with defeat to Bubba Watson in Austin.

Justin Thomas admitted thinking about the prospect of becoming world number one played a key role in his defeat to Bubba Watson at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas was unbeaten going into his last-four clash with eventual champion Watson and would have supplanted Dustin Johnson at the rankings summit had he progressed to the final.

But the US PGA champion suffered a 3 and 2 loss to Watson before succumbing 5 and 3 to Alex Noren in the third-place matchup.

Explaining the downturn in his fortunes, Thomas said: "I had a really hard time getting focused and being worried about my match as opposed to things that can happen and thinking about potentially this afternoon [Sunday].

"But I just didn't play well and Bubba played really well.

"I haven't had such a hard time not thinking about something so much. And that really sucked. I couldn't stop thinking about it, to be perfectly honest.

"And I think you're constantly getting questions about it with the media. But I need to be mentally stronger than that, and understand that it's just a match.

"But at the end of the day, obviously I didn't play very well, but I definitely didn't give him the match. He made a lot of birdies out there and played well enough to be deserving to be in the final match."

Thomas will tee off at the Masters on April 5 as one of the favourites, but suggested missing out on the top ranking may be a blessing in disguise.

"In the end it might be a good thing going to Augusta without that," Thomas added. "I get to go do what I was going to do and let DJ have all that pressure."