ROCHESTER, NY – When Tom Kim He went in search of his lost tee on the sixth hole of the opening PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on Thursday, only to be told he had crossed a creek and was somewhere on the big grass in danger.
Naturally, Kim did what any golfer would do – he went hunting for his new Titleist Pro VIx head.
By the time he returned – without his ball – he was covered in mud almost up to his waist.
“I was told my ball went over the water,” Kim told ESPN. “It was in the mud there, and if I could find it [and] I had a big lie that I thought I could make up there.”
But Kim didn’t realize that she would have to wade through a mud bath to find it. He took off his shoes and socks and pulled his pants down to his knees.
“As soon as I walked in, it was like a cartoon,” Kim said. “But I mean it’s a big race. I’m fighting every stroke I have.”
In the end, Kim was able to fight for more than just being beaten on her journey.
“Then it got dark,” he said. “As soon as I got my foot in, I was like, ‘There’s no looking back.’ I went full in and got my shirt and everything. There was one point where I just sank. I was steady for a minute. I couldn’t get my foot out.”
Kim, 20, called her friend, Joe Skovron, to help her.
“Well, if I go in and drown, we’re both not getting out,” Skovron told him.
Kim had to crawl out of the mud. When he returned to the surface — again, without his golf ball — he was covered in mud almost from waist to toe. With TV cameras recording his every move, the South Korean jumped into the river to wash his hands and feet. He took off his muddy shirt and put on a jacket.
“Yeah, it’s not getting any worse,” Kim said. “I was wet enough so I thought I might as well get in the water and take a shower and that’s what I did.”
“Once I got in (the mud), it was like cartoons. But I mean it’s a big race. I’m fighting every stroke I have.”
Unfortunately for Kim, he ended up recording a bogey on the sixth hole, his 15th of the day. But he deserved a gold star for his efforts. He birdied each of his final three holes to post a 3-over 73 and was tied at 63 when play was suspended due to darkness.
“It could have been better, that’s for sure,” Kim said. “I hung in there, especially after what happened on that hole. I was able to finish the round and show myself a little bit.”
After the round, Kim appeared to laugh that her performance was broadcast on ESPN and that the moment went viral on social media.
“I hope everyone at home understands that it’s a big competition, and I’m trying to play as much as I can and every shot counts,” Kim said. “I definitely went in full, but it didn’t really help and I didn’t get my ball, and I went through all that. It was a great experience for them.”