Justin Thomas shouldn’t quit his day job.
The 27-year-old is ranked No. 4 in the world, has 12 PGA Tour wins, a major championship (2017 PGA Championship), $34,419,108 in earnings on Tour and a stellar record in both the Ryder Cup (4-1) and Presidents Cup (6-2-2).
That said, whenever he decides to put down the clubs, he should immediately pick up a mic.
The former Alabama star made his broadcast debut as an on-course reporter on TNT/TBS alongside CBS Sports’ Amanda Balionis on Sunday during The Match: Champions for Charity, which saw Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning defeat Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. Thomas received rave reviews from golf Twitter during and after the event. He was brilliant. His rapport with Woods and Mickelson allowed them to open up on a different level compared to the original The Match in 2018.
Most importantly, Thomas didn’t overdo anything. Unlike some broadcasters, he knew fans weren’t watching for him and he never once tried to steal the spotlight. He didn’t speak just to talk. When he had something to say, it was insightful or funny. Like a golfer picking out which holes he can attack and score on, Thomas picked his spots on where to interject throughout the broadcast like someone who’s been doing it for years, let alone a day.
“It was all fun. That was the good thing about (The Match), we didn’t need to do much. The guys having mics and being good friends was a big part of it,” said Thomas after the event on the No Laying Up podcast. “It was so funny to me, I think it was honestly underrated how nervous Tom and Peyton were. They’ve competed on the biggest stages in front of so many people, yet you get them out of their comfort zone and how uncomfortable they were to start that round. It was crazy to me.”
Saturday’s rehearsal scared Thomas more than the live show. His peek behind the curtain at the life of, say, Jim “Bones” Mackay, provided perspective on just how difficult an on-course reporter’s job can be.
“The amount of voices that are going on in that headset, I now totally and completely understand why when I go up to Bones and try to talk to him and see how he’s doing why he doesn’t want to answer me,” Thomas explained. “There’s people talking to him, he’s trying to listen to players. … that part to me, I enjoyed that.”
Aside from Brady’s epic hole-out-pants-rip sequence, one of the best parts of the broadcast was the verbal haymaker Thomas threw at broadcast host Charles Barkley when he said: “Chuck, I’d love to see your fat ass try to dunk a basketball right now.”
“As soon as I said it I wondered if I maybe shouldn’t have. I have a bad tendency of saying whatever comes to my head and that was one of those times,” said Thomas with a laugh. “For some reason it’s fun talking smack to him and when he said that, he put it on a tee for me. I was going to let it go but I had to swing at it.”
Why was he so good? Because he knows what the audience wants. From his time playing and watching golf on TV, he knows how unique it is to hear players and caddies talk on the course.
“That was my number one priority, I did not want to interfere with (the players). I wanted to let them go and do their thing. This is their show. People are tuning in to this to listen to them talk, listen to what they have to say, and that’s what I wanted to have happen,” said Thomas.
Still soaking in yesterday’s #CapitalOnesTheMatch ☔️
4 🐐‘s trash talking & battling through constant rain to raise over 20 MILLION dollars for COVID-19 relief. Yesterday was a great reminder how much happiness live sports provides for so many. Oh & @JustinThomas34 crushed it pic.twitter.com/e55IgpsBiG
— Amanda Balionis (@Amanda_Balionis) May 25, 2020
“The most nerve-wracking part for me was beforehand, all the pregame. Once we got on the course and I’m getting asked to call a shot, that’s what I do,” said Thomas. “Everything I’m saying out loud calling Phil, Tom, Peyton, Tiger, whatever, that exactly what I’m thinking so that’s not hard for me. The hard part is just fitting it in a window that works for the broadcast.”
We’re more likely to see Thomas play in an event like The Match before we see him reporting on the course again. We can’t wait for either one.
By Adam Woodard
This article originally appeared on GolfWeek.USAToday.com.