MJ x JT

How a round of golf with Michael Jordan helped a 15-year-old Justin Thomas pay for his first car

Justin Thomas is a two-time major-winner. He’s close personal friends with Tiger Woods. He can, and does, play golf with whoever he wants. But at the age of 15, he was just another teenager, picking up caddie shifts while fighting acne and trying to save for up his first car. So imagine how it must have felt when one day, totally out of the blue, the Michael Jordan showed up for a round.

That’s the story Thomas told on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday night. Apparently one year “MJ,” as “JT” calls him, was in town for the Kentucky Derby and wanted to hit the links. He asked NBA buddy Junior Bridgeman for a local course recommendation and Bridgeman suggested Harmony Landing Country Club, where Thomas’ dad Mike Thomas had been head pro since 1990. Next thing you know, Jordan was teeing off alongside Mike with little JT on the bag.

The tradition continued like this for three years. On the back nine of the last year, Jordan told JT to go grab his clubs. For the last seven holes, Jordan teamed up with Thomas, and in classic MJ fashion, he put some money down on the match, having no idea he was playing alongside a future PGA Tour pro.

Despite admitting he felt the pressure of playing alongside Michael Jordan—we all saw ‘The Last Dance’ and know that Jordan sometimes treated teammates worse than opponents—Thomas says he made “four birdies in the last seven holes and helped to pay for my first car.”

Incredible stuff. Telling that story on Colbert with 15 PGA Tour titles under your belt is one thing, but just imagine trying to tell your friends at school the day after. You would have been laughed out of study hall and ostracized in the cafeteria. You would have been branded the World’s No. 1 Bullshitter. There would have been no amount forensic evidence that would have ever convinced them … until you rolled up in that shiny new whip, that is.