Tiger Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all time, and his presence on the course can be intimidating for anyone. But for one U.S. player, it was especially nerve-wracking to play with Woods in a team event.
Justin Thomas, who is a close friend of Woods and a 14-time PGA Tour winner, shared a story of how one of his teammates in the 2019 Presidents Cup was so nervous to play with Woods that he asked Thomas to switch partners.
Thomas did not reveal the name of the player, but he said it happened before the first round of the four-ball matches at Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia. Thomas was paired with Woods, while the other player was paired with Patrick Reed.
“I remember one of my teammates was like, ‘Hey, do you mind if I don’t play with Tiger today?'” Thomas said on the No Laying Up podcast. “I’m like, ‘Dude, are you kidding me? You don’t want to play with Tiger Woods in a Presidents Cup? Like, what?'”
Thomas said he was shocked by the request, but he agreed to switch partners because he wanted to help his team. He ended up playing with Reed, while Woods played with the other player.
“I’m like, ‘All right, fine. I’ll switch with you. But I’m telling you right now, you’re going to regret this the rest of your life,'” Thomas said. “And he’s like, ‘No, no, I just don’t want to do it. It’s too much for me.'”
Thomas said he understood that playing with Woods can be daunting, but he also felt that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be passed up.
“I get it. It’s hard. It’s different,” Thomas said. “But at the same time, it’s like, dude, this is Tiger Woods. This is the coolest thing that any of us have ever gotten to do in our lives.”
Thomas and Reed lost their match to Marc Leishman and Joaquin Niemann, while Woods and his partner won their match against Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen. The U.S. team went on to win the Presidents Cup by a score of 16-14.
Thomas said he still teases his teammate about his decision to avoid playing with Woods.
“I give him grief about it all the time,” Thomas said. “I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re an idiot. Like, how do you not want to play with Tiger Woods?'”
Final Thoughts: Overcoming Intimidation in Golf
The story shared by Justin Thomas sheds light on the psychological aspect of golf and how it can affect even professional players. Playing with a golf legend like Tiger Woods can be an overwhelming experience for some, causing anxiety and nervousness.
While it’s understandable to feel intimidated, it’s also essential to recognize that golf is a mental game, and players need to overcome their fears and insecurities to perform their best.
In a team event like the Presidents Cup, playing with Woods can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be missed. It’s a chance to learn from the best and test one’s skills against a golfing icon. By switching partners, the nervous player missed out on a valuable experience and potential growth opportunity.
This story also highlights the importance of mental preparation and the role it plays in golf. Players need to develop strategies to manage their nerves and stay focused on the task at hand.
Whether it’s deep breathing, visualization, or positive self-talk, having a pre-shot routine can help players stay in control of their emotions and perform at their best.
In the end, golf is not just about physical skills but also mental toughness. Overcoming intimidation and playing with confidence are critical for success on the course.
As Thomas said, “this is Tiger Woods, the coolest thing that any of us have ever gotten to do in our lives.” Golfers should embrace these opportunities, challenge themselves, and push beyond their limits to achieve their full potential.