World number two Justin Thomas has offered to act as a mentor to Mike Visacki after also giving the mini-tour player money to help finance his career.
Visacki came through a Monday qualifier to get into the Valspar Championship at the end of April, his first start on the PGA Tour, and the video of his tearful phone call to tell his father the news went viral on social media.
Although he missed the cut at Innisbrook, Visacki then received a personal phone call from Charles Schwab to offer him a sponsor’s exemption into his tournament last week.
Thomas joined Visacki for a practice round at Colonial and, after the latter had missed the cut, approached him to discreetly hand over a cheque and a good luck message.
Speaking ahead of this week’s Memorial Tournament, Thomas said: “I was a little irritated that it got out. I didn’t really want it to.
“I saw the video of Mike calling his dad and in a day and age where it seems like only anything in the media is negative and not good these days, I just felt it was so refreshing and great to see and how genuine his excitement and emotions were.
“I just thought it was awesome because he’s been playing the mini tours and been successful on the mini tours for a long time and people now knew who he was because of his story.
“I just wanted to help in a little way and what I’m most happy about is the recognition he has got and I heard that someone on the board of Charles Schwab heard about what I did and then wanted to sponsor him and take care of him and his expenses and everything throughout the rest of the year.”
Thomas said the amount of money he gave to Visacki was “not anything crazy”, but the 2017 US PGA Championship winner is also willing to be generous with his time and advice.
“He lives in Florida and we were going to play some golf together, but I just was like, hey, dude, if you ever want advice, if you ever want to pick my brain, you ever just want to talk, like, I’m here for you. I’m happy to help,” Thomas added.
“I was very fortunate to have some great mentors and people willing to help me growing up and if it’s a difference of him playing on mini tours or getting his Korn Ferry card the next year, then that means more to me than any amount of money I could ever give him or anybody.
“I haven’t been in a great place, both mentally and on the golf course, and for me it was great because I felt joy out of seeing his joy and it just kind of totally made me forget about what’s going on in my golfing life and sometimes puts things in perspective.
“We’re all out here to try to win a lot of golf tournaments, but changing people’s lives and helping people who are less fortunate than you is sometimes, you know, more important than that.”
Thomas will partner Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Reed in the first two rounds at Muirfield Village, where Rory McIlroy cited “personal reasons” for pulling out of the pre-tournament pro-am and cancelling a scheduled press conference.
McIlroy’s agent did not immediately respond to a request for more information.