DUBLIN, Ohio – Good thing Dad was walking with the group.
On a scorching Saturday at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where the heat index hovered in the 100-degree area, Justin Thomas sensed something was wrong with his veteran caddie, Jimmy Johnson, during the third round of the Memorial.
“Jimmy just wasn’t feeling well. He was feeling dizzy. I could tell he was light-headed and just didn’t have a lot of energy,” Thomas said. “I told him on 12 that if he needed to leave, he needed to leave. Just to make sure that he’s OK versus both of us worrying about it out there, and I hit my tee shot (on 13) and I came out and Jimmy was gone and my dad was there.”
That would be 60-year-old Mike Thomas, who is his son’s coach. If the elder Thomas hadn’t been there, the younger Thomas would have been hard-pressed to find a replacement because spectators are not allowed on the course.
So while Johnson was getting attended to, Mike Thomas took over. Johnson, the longtime bagman for Steve Stricker, has been with Thomas since 2015. Since then, Thomas has won 12 PGA Tour titles, the 2017 PGA Championship and FedEx Cup and was the PGA Tour Player of the Year the same year.
“I’m going to fine,” Johnson said in a text to Golfweek. “Just dizzy.”
The caddie switch did not go well. Thomas, who last had his dad on the bag in the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions, birdied 13 but bogeyed 15, doubled 16, bogeyed 17 and birdied 18 to finish with a 3-over 75. He’s tied for 24th.
“I didn’t make those bogeys because my dad was caddying, it was just poor execution,” Thomas said. “In a couple weeks or one day, nobody will remember it. But right now, yeah, it’s a bummer.”
Justin Thomas plays his shot from the fairway on the ninth hole while his caddie Jimmy Johnson looks on during the second round of the 2020 Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY SportsFather Thomas has become a familiar face on the PGA Tour as he’s basically with his son from the range to the first tee to the 18th green at nearly every tournament his son plays. But carrying 40-45 pounds is a different story.
“It’s player and caddie, it’s not coach and dad,” Mike Thomas said. “Just trying to ask him what he wants me to do and trying to get him in in fewer than he got in.
“(Johnson) said he just didn’t feel well, needed to go in. Obviously with the heat and everything, that’s what he needed to do.”
The forecast is calling for an even hotter day come Sunday. The oldest Thomas will be ready if called upon again.