How a Michael Jordan money game helped Justin Thomas pay for first car

michael jordan at 2014 ryder cup, and justin thomas walking down fairway

Justin Thomas told an epic Michael Jordan story on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday night.


Unless they’ve just won a major or their name is Tiger Woods, pro golfers rarely make appearances on late-night talk shows. But on Monday night, Justin Thomas broke that trend with a featured spot on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

And it’s a good thing he did, because viewers were treated to an epic gambling story involving a 15-year-old Thomas and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

American Ryder Cup team Captain Tom Kite offers a lift to US Basket Ball player Michael Jordan (back, right). Jordan was following the fortunes of USA player Tiger Woods throughout the fourball match against Europe at Valderrama in Spain today (Saturday).
This caddie tried to impress Michael Jordan. It didn’t go well
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When Thomas was growing up in Kentucky, his dad Mike was head professional at Harmony Landing Country Club in Goshen, Ky. Whenever Jordan attended the Kentucky Derby, he’d play a game at the club with fellow NBA pro Junior Bridgeman.

As head pro, Mike was central to setting up the rounds, but Justin was, too. The future two-time PGA Championship winner would caddie for Jordan during the annual matches.

That changed when Thomas was 15, and in the middle of the match, Jordan told JT he was going to partner with him for the final holes. While Thomas admitted to Colbert that he felt a lot of “pressure playing with playing with Michael Jordan” as a high school kid, his results didn’t show it.

“I made four birdies in seven holes,” Thomas told Colbert, “and helped pay for my first car.”

Just how much money did Thomas make on that fateful day helping Jordan to a victory? “Three-four grand,” Thomas revealed to Colbert, although he didn’t know that before the match was over. Thomas shared that when the match started, Jordan “said to everybody don’t tell him what we’re playing for,” thinking the big money figures would psych Thomas out.

Still wearing his hat as head professional, Thomas’ dad heard about the sum and told his son that he better tip the assistant pro for his troubles. All Thomas had was the $100 bills he earned from the match, so he gave the assistant a crisp Benjamin.

“My dad was like, ‘I can’t believe you just tipped him $100!’ That’s all I had,” Thomas joked to Colbert.

Fifteen years later, Thomas now has 15 Tour wins, two majors and more than $56 million in official Tour earnings. And as a fellow resident of Jupiter, Fla., he still regularly plays with Jordan, though whether he is now making or taking Jordan’s money during friendly matches is another question.

Kevin Cunningham

Kevin Cunningham Editor

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