PITTSFORD, New York—Tom Kim would do anything to save a golf stroke. Especially at a major. And he’s got the mud-caked pants and shirt to prove it.
Kim went all in — waist deep into the muck of a marshy area along Oak Hill’s Allens Creek — in a bid to retrieve his ball following an errant tee shot off No. 6 during the opening round of the Professional Golfers Associatio (PGA) Championship on Thursday.
He emerged without the ball, his shirt and pants covered in mud, while also not realizing he had instantly become a viral sensation on social media with much of his ordeal broadcast on television.
“Are you kidding me?” Kim said, pulling down his white cap to hide his face upon leaving the scorer’s tent, where he was informed his dip into the mud went world wide. “Unbelievable. All for a ball.”
Kim then sunk to his knees and began to laugh upon being handed a cell phone to see video for the first time.
Embarrassed as the 20-year-old from South Korea was, Kim was adamant he would do it again on a day he finished 3-over 73, to sit in a tie for 63rd during a first round that’s yet to be completed after being postponed by darkness.
“It’s a major championship and every shot matters. It could be the difference of me having a chance to win on Sunday or making the cut or whatever it is,” said Kim, a two-time PGA Tour winner and competing in his seventh major.
“I was told it was in the mud. And if I’m able to hit a shot, I’m doing everything I can to do it. So I definitely tried. But it was very unfortunate,” he added. “I couldn’t even find the ball.”
Kim actually went in twice. The first time was in his attempt to retrieve the ball. Once he put his foot in, he said he sunk into the mud up to his waist and had difficulty getting out.
“As soon as I went in, I knew it was kind of sketchy,” Kim said. “I had to crawl, use every part of my body to get out.”
He then returned to Allens Creek again, this time to wash off. Back on the fairway, Kim removed his mud-spattered shirt and donned a pullover top he had in his bag.
He completed the round with his pants rolled up above his calves. After settling for a bogey-5 on the sixth, he closed with three consecutive pars, including lipping out a 22-foot birdie putt on No. 8.
“It’s pretty embarrassing. But like I said, I wouldn’t change it for the world because I don’t regret anything I did. I think I would have regretted it more not trying to go in there,” Kim told The Associated Press. “Every single shot matters so much to me, and I’m going to try everything I can.”
Kim then paused for a moment and broke into a smile, saying: “Later in my career, I’m going to be able to be proud of this moment for sure.”
Image credits: AP