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On Second Thought

Masters 2023: Justin Thomas’ nosedive after walk-and-talk interview not a great look for the walk-and-talk interview

Masters 2023

Ben Walton

April 08, 2023

AUGUSTA, Ga. — A series of headlines this week hailed golfers’ participation in Masters’ mid-round walk-and-talk interviews as “historic.” It sure seemed like a decent idea at the time. Maybe less so now.

After Rory McIlroy and Max Homa were part of the feature’s Masters debut on Thursday, Justin Thomas participated in a brief interview while grinding to make the cut Saturday morning—which was either gracious or short-sighted, possibly both, given the context.

It was the 14th hole, Thomas at the time was three over for his round and one over for the tournament, and then he popped in his AirPods to talk with CBS’ Andrew Catalon and Trevor Immelman as he walked to his approach shot. He talked to them again as he walked to the green. The interview itself was innocuous, even interesting: Thomas discussed how the wet conditions minimized the advantage of course knowledge, and how the ball skids on soft greens. He also shared that he was drinking a protein shake to keep his energy up for what looked to be a long day. (Or so he thought at the time.)

Did the interview make for an intriguing twist to the broadcast? No doubt. Did it contribute to Thomas’ disastrous finish? You can't say it helped.

It’s impossible to know whether Thomas would have fared any better had he never spoken to the broadcast crew. Bear in mind his back-nine 42, leading to a 78, a four-over total and a missed cut, was played as conditions rapidly deteriorated on Saturday. But the optics aren’t great, especially if you’re the next player asked to participate in the throes of a major championship. After two-putting for par on 14, Thomas bogeyed the par-5 15th, then added two more bogeys on 17 and 18.

And mind you, this came after McIlroy’s own disappointing showing. His interview was on Thursday, when he shot a reasonable 72, but his 77 on Friday still sent him home, validating a suggestion from six-time major champion Nick Faldo that McIlroy was insufficiently focused. (Of the three players who have been part of interviews this week, only Homa, the player credited most for the PGA Tour adapting the concept during regular tournaments earlier this season, made the cut).

"Every interview I’ve done this week is all about giving 100 percent concentration to yourself and the task at hand, so why?" Faldo tweeted.