ROCHESTER, N.Y. — When Tom Kim went searching for his errant tee shot on the par-4 sixth hole in the opening round of the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on Thursday, he was told it had crossed a creek and was somewhere in the high weeds in a hazard.
Naturally, Kim did what any golfer would do — he went searching for his brand-new Titleist Pro VIx.
By the time he came back — without his ball — he was covered in mud nearly up to his waist.
“I was told my ball crossed the water,” Kim told ESPN. “It was just in the mud over there, and if I was able to find it [and] I had a good enough lie I was thinking I could chip it over there.”
But Kim didn’t realize he’d have to wade through a mud bath to find it. He took off his shoes and socks and rolled up his pants to his knees.
“As soon as I went in, it was kind of sketch,” Kim said. “But I mean it’s a major championship. I’m fighting for every single stroke I have.”
Ultimately, Kim ended up fighting for more than strokes in his adventure.
“And then it got dark,” he said. “Once my foot got in, I was like, ‘There’s no looking back.’ I went full in and it got my shirt and everything. There was one point where I just sunk in. I was steady for a minute. I couldn’t get my foot out.”
Kim, 20, called out to his caddie, Joe Skovron, for help.
“Well, if I go in and sink, both of us aren’t getting out,” Skovron told him.
Kim had to crawl out of the mud. By the time he was back on dry land — again, without his golf ball — he was covered in mud nearly from waist to toe. With TV cameras recording his every move, the South Korean jumped back into the creek to wash off his arms and legs. He removed his muddy shirt and replaced it with a jacket.
“Yeah, it couldn’t get any worse,” Kim said. “I was wet enough so I thought I might as well go in the water and wash myself off and that’s exactly what I did.”
“As soon as I went in (the mud), it was kind of sketch. But I mean it’s a major championship. I’m fighting for every single stroke I have.”
Unfortunately for Kim, he ended up carding a bogey on the sixth hole, his 15th of the day. But he should have received a gold star for effort. He recorded a par on each of his last three holes to post a 3-over 73 and was tied for 63rd when play was suspended because of darkness.
“It could have been a lot better, that’s for sure,” Kim said. “I hung in there, especially after what happened on that hole. I was able to kind of finish around even par and gave myself a few looks.”
After his round, Kim seemed amused that his exploits were broadcast on ESPN’s coverage and that the moment had gone viral on social media.
“I hope everyone at home understands it’s a major championship, and I’m trying to play the best that I can and every shot matters,” Kim said. “I definitely went full in, but it didn’t really help and I didn’t find my ball, and I went through all of that. It was a great experience.”
Tom Kim laughs off mud exploits at PGA — ‘Great experience’