When Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship last August at Quail Hollow, he received a congratulatory phone call from Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. Earlier this week, Thomas returned the favor after Saban won his fifth national championship with the Crimson Tide and sixth overall on Monday night in a 26-23 overtime victory over Georgia.
Thomas was expecting to leave a voicemail. Then Saban answered.
“I really, obviously, respect everything Coach Saban does; man, it’s unbelievable, you know? He’s an absolute legend. He’s an unbelievable competitor. I surprisingly talked to him a couple of days ago,” Thomas said while appearing on the Paul Finebaum Show on Wednesday. “I called him expecting to leave him a voicemail and I think he caught me by surprise more than I ever have when he actually answered. It was good to just briefly talk to him; it’s always fun to tell people congrats in person versus over a text or anything like that.”
Thomas didn’t reveal the specifics of what he said to Saban, but he did express how great it was to see Saban show some emotion after a thrilling win. Thomas and Saban first met while Thomas was at Alabama; Thomas is said to have helped Saban with his short game.
“You could see it in his face,” Thomas said. “It’s really cool these last couple years – you know we’ve had some just crazy swings and emotional games – to see him show some emotion and be smiling out there and get a little giddy, because that’s the Nick Saban that nobody knows and people think that he’s not like that. He’s a great guy once you get to know him. He just takes his job very, very seriously – and he’s apparently pretty good at it, as well.”
Thomas is in Honolulu this week as he defends his title at the Sony Open. He said he watched the first half of Monday night’s game at a bar with fellow Alabama alum Tom Lovelady. However, Thomas said he and Lovelady were “really nervous,” so they left at halftime and went back to their hotel to watch the rest of the game.
The result certainly pleased Thomas. It also helped him win a bet with Georgia alum Kevin Kisner. As the loser of the bet, Kisner will have to wear an Alabama jersey with his name on the back as he walks from 17 tee to 17 green on Thursday.
“Hopefully, the Tour lets me take my phone out for that,” Thomas said.