Mark SchlapachSenior writer for ESPN4 minutes to read
Rochester, New York – When Tom Kim went looking for the wrong tee on the par-4 6th 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 grass in danger.
Naturally, Kim did what any golfer would do — he went hunting for the all-new Titleist Pro Fix.
By the time he got back – without a ball – he was covered in mud almost to his waist.
“I was told my ball crossed the water,” Kim told ESPN. “It was in the mud over there, and if you can find it [and] I had a good enough lie that I thought I could put it out there.”
But Kim didn’t realize he would have to wade through a mud bath to find it. He took off his shoes and stockings and roasted his trousers up to his knees.
“Once I got in, it was kind of graphic,” Kim said. “But I mean, it’s a major championship. I’m fighting for every stroke I take.”
In the end, Kim ends up fighting more than just strikes in his adventure.
Then it got dark, he said. “Once I got my feet in, I felt like, ‘There’s no turning back.’ I went in full on and got my shirt on and everything. There was one point where I just dived in. I was stationary for a minute. I couldn’t get my feet out.”
Kim, 20, called out to his caddy, Joe Skovron, for help.
“Well,” Skovron told him, “if you go in and sink, neither of us will come out.”
Kim had to crawl out of the mud. By the time he got back to dry land – again, without a golf ball – he was covered in mud almost from waist to toe. With television cameras recording his every move, the South Korean jumped back into the creek to wash his arms and legs. He removed his muddy shirt and replaced it with a jacket.
“Yeah, it can’t get any worse,” Kim said. “I was wet enough so I thought I might go into the water and take a shower and that’s exactly what I did.”
Unfortunately for Kim, he ended up carding a bogey on the 6th hole, his 15th putt of the day. But he should have been awarded a gold star for his effort. He scored a par on each of the last three holes to post a 3-over 73 and was tied for 63 when play was suspended due to darkness.
“It could have been a lot better, that’s for sure,” Kim said. “I just got stuck in there, especially after what happened on that hole. I was able to finish even and give myself a few looks.”
After his run, 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 that it’s a major tournament, I’m trying to do the best I can and every shot counts,” Kim said. “I was definitely involved, but it didn’t really help and I couldn’t find my ball, and I went through it all. It was a great experience.”
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