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Justin Thomas had a dramatic match with Si Woo Kim at the 2022 Presidents Cup.
Despite the lopsided final score at the Presidents Cup, in which Team USA defeated the Internationals by a score of 17.5-12.5, there was still plenty of drama to behold.
That’s the beauty of match play, a mano-a-mano format that can feel intensely personal, thereby providing ample opportunity for theatrics. Players get amped up, feed off the crowd, and irritate each other — a wonderful spectacle for viewers.
And that’s why Sunday’s opening singles match between Team USA’s Justin Thomas and the International squad’s Si Woo Kim was so electric.
The Internationals started the final day of competition trailing by only four points. Victory, if perhaps unlikely, was still achievable.
Thomas, with a formidable 4-0 record heading into Sunday singles, was one of Team USA’s undisputed MVPs. Kim, with a more modest 2-1-0 record, was among the Internationals’ top performers.
Theirs was the most exciting match of the day, not only because of the nine birdies on the board between them, or the fact that it went all 18 holes, but mostly because of the entertaining histrionics on display.
The intensity was apparent from the start, when Thomas drained a long birdie to go 2-up through 4 (cue the clenched fist pump!). Then, Thomas was visibly — and vocally! — annoyed by having to hit a short putt that Kim did not concede on No. 9.
The two traded birdies over the first half of the back nine, but things really took a turn when, after tying the match with a birdie on 14, Kim drained a putt to save par on the 15th … and shushed the crowd.
Thomas, who was already walking briskly to the next tee, saw Kim, and looked like he was ready to rumble.
Kim birdied 16 to pull one ahead, and Thomas birdied 17 to tie it up. On 18, Kim drained a birdie, punctuated with a long, low fist pump, and Thomas failed to drain his putt to tie, leaving Kim with a 1-up victory.
It was quite a performance for both players, and in the aftermath of the match, Thomas admitted that Kim’s shushing moment got to him.
“Honestly, at the time, I was pretty pissed off,” he said. “It’s one of those things, I think when you’re in the moment, when you’re on the other side of it, it’s something that gets you motivated, gets you pumped up a little bit. I mean, he hit the shots and made the putts better than I did the last three holes or, really, the last nine holes when he needed to. So I can say whatever I want about it, but he beat me. So he has the upper hand on me.”
Kim said that he was inspired by Patrick Reed’s famous shush moment at the 2014 Ryder Cup, and was reacting to Thomas’ energy.
“Yeah, JT give me fist pump, and then I had to do it,” he said. “And I had to make it, and I made it. Then, like, yeah, I had to do something. I think that give me more energy.”
Despite the fact that Thomas lost his singles match, he still came away with a pretty stellar 4-1 record — not to mention a team victory.
“We won the Cup,” he said. “So that’s all that matters.”
As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Issue, which debuted in February 2018. Her original interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.
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