By now, you know the plot: two precocious talents meet in the flush of youth and are thrust into the fires of competition that will fuel a rivalry but also forge a friendship built on mutual respect, mischievous humor and a fondness for hanging out, bare-chested, in the sun.
But enough about Top Gun.
Let’s talk about the bromance between Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
As the two prepare to team up against Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in Saturday’s rendition of Capital One’s The Match, here’s a look back at memorable moments in their well-traveled relationship.
Teens on the Tee
The two cross paths for the first time as 13-year-old phenoms, competing in a two-day junior all-star tournament in Texas, where they both open with 68s. In the second round, Spieth bests his soon-to-be buddy by five, shooting 71 to Thomas’s 76.
Vive la France!
Spieth and Thomas visit France, and it isn’t to take part in a summer language program. Both have been selected to represent the United States in the Evian Junior Masters. A friendship is emerging that extends to their families. Before long, the Spieths and the Thomases are opening their homes to one another and bunking together on the road.
At the 2012 NCAA Div. I Championship at Riviera, Spieth anchors a University of Texas team while Thomas stars for the University of Alabama. The two squads battle down the stretch, with Spieth’s Longhorns prevailing.
Time for the Tour
Spieth, who is three months younger, turns pro first, joining the circuit in 2012 and enjoying a meteoric rise, with six wins in his first three seasons, including two majors and a FedEx Cup title. Thomas turns pro in late 2013, and if his start isn’t as scorching, it isn’t shabby either. After a cluster of close calls, he nets his first title in 2015.
At the 2017 Dell Technologies Championship, at TPC Boston, the two are tied for the lead with five holes to play when Spieth stumbles and Thomas steps on the gas to win by three.
Afterward, Thomas points to the many ways they push each other forward.
“I mean, we’re always competing,” he says. “Whether it was we want to be at the top of the Rolex Rankings in junior golf; we want to be the low junior golfer in the U.S. Amateur; we want to make the cut as an amateur in a Tour event; we want to win college player of the year and we want to lead our team’s scoring average. It’s just now we’re at the top level you can get.”
Dude, Where’s My Car?
It wouldn’t be a bromance without hijinks. At the 2015 Waste Management Open, in Scottsdale, there are limited parking spots available to players, and Spieth, as the No. 9-ranked player in the world, has one of them. Thomas doesn’t. So, he does what any good friend would do. He shows up early and snags Spieth’s, then sends his pal a photo of what’s he’s done.
“I shouldn’t have told him I was going to do it because then he wouldn’t have known it was me,” Thomas says.
Instead, Spieth gets the last laugh by having Thomas’s car towed to a hotel in downtown Phoenix, some 20 miles away.
That is not the license plate of Thomas’s missing vehicle. It’s shorthand for a legendary spring-break getaway that the boys took to the Bahamas, where they did the whole yacht-golf-beach-and-beer-chugging thing in a shirtless display that went viral. Their partners in crime that year were Rickie Fowler and Smylie Kaufman, who will be part of this Saturday’s televised action as an on-course commentator.
Same deal, a year later.
France, Part Deux
In an otherwise dreary week for Team USA, Spieth and Thomas go 3-and-1 as partners at the 2018 Ryder Cup, outside Paris, a pairing that comes about after U.S. captain Jim Furyk splits up the famously successful tandem of Spieth and Patrick Reed.
Victory on Ice
If you swap out grass for ice and trade the clubs for brooms, curling is pretty much the same as golf. Or close enough, at least, as Spieth, Thomas and a gathering of others prove at a curling party in advance of Spieth’s wedding.
Kings of Quail Hollow
In a week of high-fives, backslaps, birdies and miracle bounces, Spieth and Thomas run roughshod over the Internationals in the 2022 Presidents Cup, winning all four of their two-man matches while building their career record as partners in the event to 8-2-0.
Two Weddings and a Best Man’s Toast
Four years after taking part in his pal’s wedding party, Thomas ties the knot, and his choice of a best man surprises no one. With cell phones off limits at the celebration, only those in attendance get to hear Spieth’s toast.
At the 2021 Hero World Challenge, Spieth incurs a bizarre penalty after playing from the wrong tee box on the 17th hole. It’s a funny moment that he’d rather forget. His friend won’t let him. Sure enough, in the run up to this year’s Hero, Thomas takes to Twitter to roast his pal. “Just want to make sure @JordanSpieth tees off the correct tee box this year. . .”
On Saturday, the longtime pals will peg it against two titans — Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy — in the seventh edition of The Match. Spieth and Thomas are slight betting faves but will likely need their best stiff to prevail. Time to call on that chemistry again.
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